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Monday 5 December 2016

Kerry class should tell

Cork unlikely to scratch 20-year Killarney itch against theAll-Ireland champions

YOU'D need a degree a recent history and an encyclopaedic knowledge of Munster football to recall a Cork team going into a provincial final with their dearest of neighbours with less expected of them.

Even the 70's team ritually patronised by Mick O'Dwyer as being 'the second best team in the country,' were given greater chances of turning Kerry over on their home patch than the current mob are here.

And with just cause.

Last time they met at this stage - last year in Pairc Ui Chaoimh - Cork rolled over and had their bellies tickled in front of their own.

Since then, Kerry have won an All-Ireland.

They've gotten the Gooch back, Paul Galvin and Tommy Walsh too.

bountiful

Cork rallied - sort of - in the League but were beaten by a Dublin team in the final, making the exact same mistakes as they did to the same team just a year previous in the semi-final.

So to the hardened Cork football fan (is there any other kind?) optimism isn't exactly bountiful just now.

In truth, we've seen nothing genuine of Kerry since last year's All-Ireland final.

They put together a performance to scratch an itch in March by beating Dublin in Fitzgerald Stadium.

They did likewise in Omagh to avoid relegation and they did - as only Kerry can do - just enough to put away Tipperary in the Munster semi-final, when hope of an upset was fuelled primarily bt the very tediousness of these two teams appearing in this final almost every single year.

Other than that - zilch.

And they know that by refusing to let Cork win in Killarney for the first time in 20 years, they'll avoid any tricky qualifiers and most likely, walk into an All-Ireland semi-final after doing their thing in Croke Park.

And there's another element to Kerry's charm, too.

With Cooper, Walsh, Aidan O'Mahony, Anthony Maher, Paul Geaney, Darran O'Sullivan and Paul Murphy in reserve, they possess not only game-changers or stylistically different alternatives, they also have one of the classiest benches in verifiable memory.

Not that Cork aren't without their own talents, it's just that Brian Cuthbert hasn't yet deciphered how to best utilise them, particularly against the newly-formed but unanimously accepted 'Top Four.'

explosive

In Brian Hurley and Colm O'Neill, they have a pair of explosive, prolific attackers around whom to build a team and in Mark Collins and Paul Kerrigan, a couple of strong runners to zoom in from deep and devour any breaks.

But it hasn't happened yet and in Killarney against Kerry, it's less likely to happen than just about anywhere else on earth.

All of which - in GAA logic - passes as pretty clear reason as to why Cork will defy expectations and put in the sort of performance they've serious lacked in these games since winning their All-Ireland in 2010.

A win, though, looks way beyond them.

ODDS: Kerry 4/9, Draw 15/2, Cork 5/2

VERDICT: Kerry

munster sfc final: Kerry v CORK, KILLARNEY, TOMORROW

David Moran (left) starts at midfield for Kerry tomorrow while Colm Cooper is on the bench.

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