Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Canty is the key to Cork's revenge mission

Graham Canty will lead Cork's resistance to Kerry on Sunday
Graham Canty will lead Cork's resistance to Kerry on Sunday

If the Vodafone Allstars were being chosen today, there is a good chance that the central spine of the Cork defence would be included in the line-up.

Full-back Graham Canty and centre-half-back Ger Spillane have done more than enough to date to suggest that they merit inclusion in any line-up embracing the top players of '07.

Canty's return to top form following injury and Spillane's solid consistency are two of the main reasons why Cork are in Sunday's All Ireland final against Kerry.

And if the Leesiders have relied on the pair to date to keep opponents at bay, they will lean even more heavily on their combined talents to help thwart the Kerry attack particularly now that Anthony Lynch is out.

Canty's immense value to the Cork defence was underlined in the semi-final against Meath when he switched over from his normal full-back berth to curb the considerable threat posed by Meath corner-forward Stephen Bray.

Up until that game, Bray had been scoring virtually at will as the Royal County surged through the qualifiers to book their place in the last four.

Now Canty is certain to confront Kieran Donaghy, the player who revitalised the Kerry forward division last year and who has continued to represent a major danger to opponents this year.

His credentials are certain to come in for a stiff examination from Canty, though.

And Spillane's courageous defiance when Meath attempted to find a path through the middle also helps to bolster Cork hopes for Sunday.

Not only has the brawny Spillane cemented his reputation as a top-class defender but he is proving an asset to the Cork attack, coming forward at regular intervals during games to enhance their fire-power.

It will certainly be interesting to see if he goes head-to-head with Kerry skipper Declan O'Sullivan on Sunday.

The latter is already a short-odds favourite to be named Player of the Year but he faces his biggest test this week-end.

O'Sullivan played at centre-threequarters against Dublin but in previous games had fulfilled a role at wing-forward.

Should he opt to pursue this ploy on Sunday, he may elude Spillane's tentacles to some extent although Cork boss Billy Morgan will undoubtedly have a defensive blueprint to cover this scenario.

And if he has, then Cork chances of avenging that Munster final defeat may be enhanced somewhat.

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