Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

O'Shea hoping kingdom will reign yet again

Cork captain Derek Kavanagh and Kerry captain Declan O'Sullivan with the Sam Maguire Cup ahead of Sunday's big showdown

Pat O'Shea will on Sunday endeavour to replicate the feat achieved by his immediate predecessor Jack O'Connor - plot an All Ireland final win for Kerry.

Scarcely a year has elapsed since O'Shea took over the Kingdom reins yet he has managed to help maintain the momentum which has seen the county capture the Sam Maguire Cup on four occasions within the last decade.

And if Kerry's current progress has been brokered more by dint of hard work, steely resolve and unrelenting commitment as opposed to silken skills and sustained artistic flair, that does not necessarily lessen their chances of retaining the most prized trophy in Irish sport.

Cork now stand in the way of Kerry's back-to-back title ambitions - the same county that were the last to achieve this signal honour in 1989 and 1990.

This in itself will provide an additional spur for Billy Morgan's side thus rendering O'Shea's task all the more difficult.

Yet he is undaunted by the prospect of seeing his side tripped up by their ambitious neighbours.

"Cork know all about us obviously. We maybe beat them in the Munster final but that will not count for a great deal in the context of Sunday's game. This is a whole new challenge," maintains O'Shea who guided Dr Crokes to the AIB All Ireland Club final earlier this year only to see them lose out to Crossmaglen Rangers.

Cork's character, resources and skills will be put to the ultimate test, particularly now that Anthony Lynch is out. And their hunger to repeat the feat of their predecessors of 17 years ago will also come under the microscope.

Kerry, meanwhile, can lean on a towering pedigree, a buoyant team spirit and a ration of individual skills that have ensured their passage thus far.

Tómas O Sé, Aidan O Mahony, Tom O'Sullivan, Declan O Sullivan, Kieran Donaghy, Colm Cooper and Paul Galvin have been playing vintage football to date.

But in Derek Kavanagh and Nicholas Murphy, the Leesiders have arguably the best midfield combination in the country - an asset that should ensure a healthy ration of primary possession.

Yet Dara O Sé is still a major force in the Kerry side and the support he receives from both his half-backs and half-forwards could help negate any supremacy Cork might gain in the engine-room.

And this in turn might pave the way for Declan O'Sullivan, Colm Cooper and Paul Galvin in particular to weave their own special brand of magic.

For all Cork's rampant desire and undoubted talents, it is difficult to look past this being enacted. And this would mean 'Sam' remaining in his adopted home.

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