Michael McGrath TD previews Cork v. KilkennyPosted on 06/08/10 by Michael McGrath
If there’s one team that Cork love to meet in hurling, that’s Kilkenny. The respect that these counties have for each other goes back to the foundations of the GAA, and will continue to be there no matter what the outcome is this Sunday.
It has been a source of frustration for those on Leeside that the Cats have moved two ahead on the list of All-Ireland winners (32 as opposed to Cork’s 30). A Cork man loves a challenge, and so it is that this Sunday will see the Rebels go in as massive underdogs in an attempt to stop Kilkenny achieving the historic five-in-a-row.
I have been saying all season that Kilkenny have to lose some time - why not this Sunday? No Cork player who pulls on the blood red jersey has ever felt inferior to his opponent, and I expect that to be the case again in Croke Park this Sunday afternoon. This is a Cork team that still has many players who know what it takes to win an All-Ireland. Men such as Donal Óg Cusack, John Gardiner, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, Ronan Curran and Ben and Jerry O’Connor have all tasted success on the biggest stage, and they will be determined to do so again. It has been four years since Cork were last victorious over Kilkenny in the championship, so I expect them to be ravenous when the sliotar is thrown in at 3.30 on Sunday.
Looking back over the meetings between these sides since Brian Cody’s reign began, Cork have only conceded three goals in five matches. We have managed to keep a clean sheet in two of those games. That is no mean feat, and if Donal Óg can guard the net as only he can, Cork will be in with a great shout.
We only have to cast our minds back to the end of May when this Cork side upset Tipperary, racing to a 10 point win over the Premier County in the Munster Championship. That match showed the potential of this side, and while they failed to win the Munster Final against Waterford, Denis Walsh’s charges have still progressed from last year.
So to Kilkenny - it is to Brian Cody’s credit that he continues to bring this team to the summit year after year. Winning four All-Irelands in a row is a fantastic feat – the manner in which they have won those matches only adds to the achievement. Cody is a master of understatement, and is a shining example of how to keep people motivated. The carrot of five-in-a-row must surely be at the back of his mind, but the man from Sheestown has made no mention of it in public. Perhaps he is wary of the Kerry football team in 1982 who were so cruelly denied the magic five by a late Seamus Darby goal for Offaly – tempting fate is not something that Cody nor Kilkenny can ever be accused of.
While a Kilkenny win would probably be the logical prediction to make for Sunday, I can’t help but feel that this Cork side has one final kick in them. We love proving people wrong, and have a massive incentive to win on Sunday. The old guard, mixed with the youth of players such as Eoin Cadogan and Aisake Ó hAilpín, can produce a display that will rock the Cats on Sunday.
Cork will respect, but not fear, the likes of Henry Shefflin, Tommy Walsh, Michael Rice, Eddie Brennan and Richie Power. If the red and white can stay in touch up to the last 10 minutes then we could have a shock on our hands.
As a Cork man I have to be positive, so I’m going for Cork by two or three points. Up the Rebels!
Michael McGrath is TD for the Cork South Central Constituency.