Cork’s poor record at this level heaps the pres­sure on An Ghaeltacht to de­liver

Damian Stack takes a look at Mal­low’s op­po­nents in Sun­day’s Mun­ster club semi-fi­nal – Kerry cham­pi­ons An Ghaeltacht

The Corkman - - SPORT -

N the Kerry side of the county bounds it stands as a proud record, on the other side as a painful re­buke. It’s been ten years since a Kerry club tasted de­feat at the hands of a Cork club in ei­ther the ju­nior or in­ter­me­di­ate club championships.

Had you told us then, in 2007 af­ter Keel fell short to Canovee in the ju­nior, that would be the case we’d hardly have be­lieved you and, yet, in that time Kerry’s dom­i­nance has be­come al­most pro forma.

It would be a sur­prise if Mal­low won this week­end sim­ply for the rea­son that it’s been so long since a Cork team did beat a Kerry team at this level. In the last ten years the only Cork side to win this ti­tle was Clyda Rovers, in 2013, and they did so by beat­ing Mill­town / Mal­bay, the con­querors of Cur­row.

The slightly strange thing about Cork’s poor record against Kerry op­po­si­tion at this level – Kerry have won ten of the last nine Mun­ster ti­tles – is that An Ghaeltacht are prob­a­bly un­der more pres­sure to de­liver the goods here.

Mal­low, de­spite host­ing the game, have much less to lose in a very real sense. They can throw off the shack­les and go for it. That makes them a dangerous propo­si­tion for the Kerry cham­pi­ons and An Ghaeltacht se­lec­tor Dara Ó Cin­néide is well aware of the chal­lenge they pose.

“They are [a very good side],” he says.

“But you’d ex­pect a town of the pop­u­la­tion of Mal­low to have a de­cent group­ing. They’ve Aaron Cahill from Brosna and James Loughrey from Antrim for the last num­ber of years and we’re fa­mil­iar with Matthew Tay­lor and Ryan Harkin and Cian O’Rior­dan and th­ese boys and you know they’ve es­tab­lished them­selves as footballers within their own county.

“Hav­ing seen videos they’re a big, phys­i­cal team with a very strong spine and they’re go­ing to make it tricky for us no more than Tem­ple­noe the last day. They’re ex­actly the type of team that fits the bill at in­ter­me­di­ate level and into Mun­ster any team can beat the other team on a given day.

“There aren’t go­ing to be mis­matches at in­ter­me­di­ate level, it just seems to be a more even play­ing pitch. Mal­low are ex­actly the type of team who could beat us if we’re not on our game.”

Mal­low, in­ter­est­ingly, are man­aged by a na­tive west Kerry man, for­mer An­nascaul player Keith Moyni­han.

“He’s very fa­mil­iar with what we’re about so he’d have a very good in­sight into us,” Ó Cin­néide says.

“But hav­ing said that the way things are at the mo­ment all th­ese teams know each other any­way. There’s stuff read­ily avail­able now on teams be­tween go­ing to see them and up on YouTube and all of that. It’d give you a cer­tain el­e­ment of prepa­ra­tion, but other than that it’s very much on the day.”

An Ghaeltacht re­port a clean bill of health of this week­end’s game hav­ing played a

West Kerry league fi­nal against Lis­pole last week­end.

“We put out lads who hadn’t got the game against Tem­ple­noe and gave them all a game,” Ó Cin­néide ex­plains.

“The re­sult then was re­flec­tive of that I sup­pose. Lis­pole were the bet­ter team, we wanted to win it of course, but we just didn’t do enough to win it. We got no in­juries out of it any­way so we have a full team for next Sun­day.”

The west Kerry out-fit are widely con­sid­ered in Kerry to be the real deal. They’ve got an ex­cel­lent goal­keeper in To­mas Mac an tSaoir. In de­fence they’ve got for­mer foot­baller of the year Marc Ó Sé, his first cousin Pádraig was man of the match in the Kerry county fi­nal and Kerry up-and-comer Brian Ó Beaglaoich is a real gem.

An Ghaeltacht’s mid­field is re­ally im­pres­sive too. Rob Ó Sé and Seán Ó Gairbhí have been hav­ing re­ally im­pres­sive sea­sons. Then up front they’ve got an im­pres­sive ar­ray of tal­ent.

Dara Ó Sé at cen­tre-for­ward is devel­op­ing into a fine player while along side him PJ Mac Láimh has been the find of the sea­son in Kerry. In the full-for­ward line they’ve got two play­ers be­ing spo­ken of as hav­ing Kerry po­ten­tial – corner-for­ward Tomás Ó Sé and Éanna Ó Conchúir. Seán M Ó Conchúir, mean­while, is a wily vet­eran.

They play a re­ally at­trac­tive brand of foot­ball too. It’ll be a real test of Mal­low to get over this side, who like ev­ery other team to emerge from Kerry at this time of the year, will have am­bi­tions of reach­ing Croke Park in Fe­bru­ary. “I’d hope so,” Ó Cin­néide says. “The tar­get at the be­gin­ning of the year start­ing out was to win the In­ter­me­di­ate cham­pi­onship in Kerry, but we don’t want to leave the side down in Kerry ei­ther. When you go over to Mal­low the next day you’re rep­re­sent­ing the county and sure Tem­ple­noe would love to be there and we’re just car­ry­ing that bit more. “They got good en­cour­age­ment com­ing through that game against Tem­ple­noe. They had their few days cel­e­bra­tion and it’s only nat­u­ral I would hope that young lads would want more.

“We had our game against Lis­pole on Satur­day, all lads are back now on an even keel and we’re training away this week, we won’t be flog­ging any­body at this time of the year, we’ve a lot of work put in all year so it’s just a mat­ter of fo­cussing in on what Mal­low are all about with what we’re do­ing.

“When the eu­pho­ria died down af­ter the county fi­nal of course you’d see loads that you’d have to work on and that’s what we’ll have been do­ing the week or two.”

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