Cork-Kerry final gives Rebel minors a chance to set the record straight

Cork-Kerry final gives Rebel minors a chance to set the record straight
Picture: Dan Linehan

CORK minor footballers got the desired result from Kerry's 1-16 to 0-11 win over Clare in Tralee on Thursday night.

It means an old firm Munster final on Saturday June 22 with a 4.45 throw-in as a curtain-raiser to the yet-to-decided senior showdown which has a 7pm start.

Those semi-finals will be played next Saturday with Cork hosting surprise- packets Limerick at Páirc Uí Rinn and Munster champions Kerry heading to Ennis to play Clare at Cusack Park. Both games start at 7pm.

If it turns out to be a Cork-Kerry double bill then Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be the venue even though the 2018 finals were also played there.

It should be Killarney's turn to have the games, but Kerry owe Cork a number of finals because of the reconstruction work on Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Cork manager Bobbie O'Dwyer will be delighted with his charges qualifying for their first final in three years on a number of fronts.

Patrick Campbell. Picture: Dan Linehan
Patrick Campbell. Picture: Dan Linehan

First, it guarantees Cork a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals irrespective of the outcome of the final and secondly it hands the Rebels a golden opportunity to set the record straight following their heavy 3-19 to 1-9 defeat a couple of weeks ago.

On a general scale the formats used by the four provinces in staging the minor championship must be looked at by Croke Park because of the disparity from one part of the country to another.

In 2018, Cork, Waterford and Limerick only played two games each, one less than Clare and Kerry with Tipp playing the most number of games, four, even though they didn't reach the final. Losing quarter-finalist played off against each other.

This year, Munster changed to two round-robin series of games. It started with Clare, Tipperary, Limerick and Waterford meeting one another with the top two clashing again in a final.

That ended with Clare defeating Tipp for a second time, giving them the right to join Cork and Kerry for another sequence of games which led to two Kerry victories and Cork accounting for Clare.

O'Dwyer is a firm believer in Munster adopting the system used, for example, by Connacht in which every county plays in a round-robin system with the top team qualifying for the final and the second and third counties meeting in a semi-final.

The fourth and fifth teams square-up in a 'B' final.

It could be argued that would represent too many games in Munster but the point is that there should be a level playing field for every county with maybe the leading two counties going straight to the final.

Munster council officials will probably be happy too that it's Cork-Kerry because the last two finals proved to be very one-sided with the Kingdom dishing out 24 and 20-point hammerings to Clare.

Given that Cork lost to the defending Munster and All-Ireland champions by 16 points recently adds more pressure on them to deliver a performance matching their potential.

Around the country, it looks like Roscommon could be the team to beat up west following their 1-17 to 1-15 win over Galway though Mayo are sure to be in the make-up as well on the basis of their 1-20 to 0-6 victory over Longford.

Leinster continue to operate their system of three groups of four on a champions' league style with six teams emerging for the knock-out phase.

There are two quarter-finals involving Meath and Westmeath and Dublin against Wicklow with Laois and Kildare awaiting the winners in the semis.

Ulster has a different system again based on the 'back-door' format and they've reached the last-four stage where holders Monaghan take on Donegal and Derry face Tyrone.

While provincial councils are free to implement formats of their own the fact that the senior championships have the same uniformity lends weight to the theory that minor should also operate in the same way.

Cork haven't won Munster since 2010 while Kerry aim to win eight-in-a-row and a sixth straight All-Ireland.

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