Cork U17 footballers must stem the Kerry tide in tricky trip to Tralee

Cork U17 footballers must stem the Kerry tide in tricky trip to Tralee
Cork's Blake Murphy keeps possession under pressure from Limerick's Mark Quinlan, during their Munster U17 Football Championship semi-final clash, at Pairc Ui Rinn. Picture: David Keane.

Mark Woods 


IT rests with Cork's U17 footballers to prevent an under-age Kerry whitewash, when the counties lock horns in Tralee this Tuesday evening, throw-in, 7pm.

Already, the Kingdom have inflicted a couple of heavy defeats on their great rivals, winning the U21 title by 16 points on a 2-16 to 0-6 scoreline at Páirc Uí Rinn and qualifying for the minor final by registering a 10-point victory, 2-17 to 1-10 at the same venue.

This evening's final is the first in the grade and it replaces the minor championship next season, when the U21 becomes a watered-down U20 competition with a list of restrictions.

It also provides the opportunity for those Cork players who were also involved in the minor game a week ago, when All-Ireland champions, Kerry, once again unearthed a team more than capable of retaining their crown and clinching a fourth title on the spin.

Midfielder Mark Keane (Mitchelstown), right half-forward Jack Murphy (Éire Óg) and right corner-forward Mark Cronin (Nemo Rangers) started while full-back Daniel O'Mahony (Knocknagree) came on after 40 minutes.

Cork's Mark Keane and David Lardner, compete in the air with Limerick's Rory O'Brien. Picture: David Keane.
Cork's Mark Keane and David Lardner, compete in the air with Limerick's Rory O'Brien. Picture: David Keane.

Kerry also have strong links to their own minor team. Goalkeeper Deividas Uosis from Dingle impressed with a couple of brilliant saves, including stopping a penalty by stretching full length to his left to get a strong hand and turn the ball around the post.

Centre-back Ed Horan from Scartaglen filled the same role in the minor game though Kerry must plan without centre-forward Donal O'Sullivan from Kilgarvan after he suffered a hand injury in last week's encounter.

Kerry's minor bench also included full-back Dylan Casey (Austin Stacks), midfielder and captain Sean O'Connel (Cordal) and full-forward Michael Slattery (Austin Stacks).

There are some intriguing head-to-head tussles, starting at midfield where the Keane-O'Connell joust will be watched with interest and it's the same between Horan and Cork captain Blake Murphy on the '40.

The respective full-backs also have important roles with O'Mahony planning to limit Slattery's influence and Casey plotting a similar campaign against Cronin, who scored 2-7 in Cork's two outings to-date.

Those games didn't offer much of a test of Cork's credentials, though, as both Waterford and Limerick were way out of their depth.

Cork travelled to Dungarvan for the opening game and had little difficulty in destroying the Déise by 6-24 to 0-1 and it was just as comfortable against Limerick at Páirc Uí Rinn, where Cork won in a canter by 5-18 to 1-6.

Kilshannig's Conor McMahon helped himself to 2-3 in the first game, when Murphy chipped in with 0-6 from play.

Wing-back David Lardner (Fermoy), whose twin brother Greg is at centre-back, stormed forward to score 0-4 while Fionn Herlihy (Dohenys) contributed 0-3.

Murphy increased his contribution to 2-9 in total with an impress 2-3 against Limerick with Cronin slotting home a couple of penalties in his 2-2.

Kerry played a game less to reach the final, overcoming Tipperary by 3-11 to 1-6 with a couple of early goals from Slattery and Barry Keane helping them settle straight away.

Cork are coached by Castlehaven's James McCarthy with Brian Lotty (Glanmire), Ben Flahive (Douglas) and Michael Beston (Mitchelstown) completing the management team.

Kerry minor boss, Peter Keane, is also at the helm with the U17s and no doubt relishing the prospect of completing a hat-trick of important wins over the old enemy.

Meanwhile, there's a very restricted fixtures programme at the weekend with the first round intermediate football game between the second teams of Carrigaline and Clonakilty clashing in Kinsale on Friday evening at 7.15.

The prize for the winners is a round 2A meeting with Cill na Martra while the losers take on newcomers Gabriel Rangers in 2B.

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