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All Ireland Football Championship: Cork chief O’Sullivan expects thriller

By John Campbell

It's not often that a county board chairman eulogises the opposition in advance of an All-Ireland final.

But Cork GAA chief Ger O’Sullivan makes no bones about his genuine admiration for Down — both the present side and their illustrious predecessors.

O’Sullivan said: “When I was a young boy players like Paddy Doherty were my idols, we all looked up to the Down men of that vintage.

“As far as my generation is concerned, Down have always been an outstanding football team and they have played the game in the right spirit.

“History shows that Down seem to be inspired by playing in the All- Ireland final rather than be intimidated by it and I have no doubt that this will apply to James McCartan’s side this Sunday.

“We know Down have a tremendous record in finals having played in five and won five — that will surely be a spur to the present side against us now.”

And O’Sullivan, while acknowledging that Cork will carry greater experience into the match, points to the fact that Kilkenny entered the All Ireland hurling final “positively groaning” under the weight of honours they had won over recent years while Tipperary went in “with one arm as long as the other,” as he puts it.

Tipperary’s stunning victory has undoubtedly been the highlight of the GAA year and O’Sullivan is in no doubt that Down have the psyche and the skill to replicate Tipperary’s feat on Sunday.

O’Sullivan added: “Yes, I think Down will be up for the challenge big-time. They won’t be in the least put out by what we have achieved or have not achieved as the case may be.”

But his passionate desire to see Cork triumph manifests itself when he adds: “Look, you don’t always get what you think you deserve in this life but if any team deserves to win an All Ireland title then this Cork side does.

“They have been through the mill and I would dearly love to see them win.”

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