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09th May 2017

5 players to watch in Kerry-Cork Munster minor football semi-final

Keep the eyes peeled for these lads

Niall McIntyre

The Electric Ireland Munster Minor Football Championship semi-final clash between Kerry and Cork takes place at Páirc Uí Rinn on Wednesday evening.

Kerry have won the last three Munster and All Ireland Championships in this grade and will be hopeful that they can continue the trend this year. Peter Keane’s side have won their last 19 games at minor level on a run that began following their 2013 quarter-final loss to Tyrone.

The Kingdom’s starting line-up includes four of the side who played in their All Ireland Minor Final victory against Galway last year – Diarmuid O’Connor, Brian Friel, David Clifford who has been named as the captain of this year’s side and Michael Potts.

Kerry will undoubtedly be going into this game as favourites, although this Cork side are no slouches themselves and certainly have the capability to spring a surprise.

This Cork team are looking for their first Munster Minor Championship in seven years. The Rebels are a physically strong side and with a full-forward line who scored 3-13 between them against Tipperary, the Kerry backs will underestimate them at their peril.

Here are five up-and-coming talents to look out for.

Donchadh O’Sullivan (Kerry) – The Firies clubman played a starring role in his school, St Brendan’s, Killarney’s Corn Uí Mhuirí and Hogan Cup triumphs this year. O’Sullivan racked up some serious scoring tallies throughout this campaign, including 1-7 against 2015 champions Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne, 0-7 against Tralee CBS in the Munster Final and 0-4 against St Peter’s College, Wexford in the All-Ireland-final. O Sullivan is adept off both feet and is being hailed throughout Kerry as one of the most exciting prospects in the county. The Cork full-back will want to have his wits about him with O’Sullivan knocking around the square with his constant movement and electrifying pace.

Damian Gore (Cork) – Gore is now in his third year as a county minor. It takes a special type of player to make your county’s minor team for three years in a row. The Kilmacabea clubman impressed for the Cork minors of 2015, 2016 and he followed up this form getting his 2017 campaign underway in fine fettle scoring 1-5 against Tipperary and picking up a man of the match award. The rangy corner forward represents a huge scoring threat for the rebels and the Kerry management will be focusing much of their efforts on stopping this man.

Chris O’ Donoghue (Kerry) – The Glenflesk clubman excelled throughout St.Brendan’s successful school campaigns of 2016 and 2017. The rock solid full-back ensured their goalkeeper had very little to do and was key to clean sheets kept in both the All-Ireland and Munster finals of 2017. O’Donoghue will be minding the house at Páirc uí Rinn again tomorrow and the Cork forwards will need to be at their very best to cut through the defensive barrier that he creates.

Mark Cronin (Cork) – The Nemo Rangers man comes from good stock with his older brother Stephen the former Cork under-21 captain and a current senior player. Cronin gave the Tipperary full-back line nightmares scoring 2-4 against The Premier County. Brother Stephen said of him in 2016: “We’ve a 16-year-old brother too, Mark, and a lot of fellas would say he’s the only one of us who can actually kick a football!” Cronin was a key member of the Coláiste Chríost Rí school side of 2017 who were unlucky to be knocked out by Tralee CBS in a replay in the Munster Championship.

David Clifford (Kerry) – Clifford is no stranger to the big stage. He was a key member of last year’s All-Ireland minor winning a side netting a goal in the final against Galway. The Fossa clubman who will lineout at centre-forward will captain his side tomorrow night. He has taken part in AFL trials in the past. He scored 1-4 against Clare in the last round underlining his recent form. Clifford has great leading characteristics underlined by his 2016 Hogan Cup final display for St Brendan’s in which he dragged his side from a four point deficit to an 11-point lead in the space of 20 electrifying minutes. Clifford scored 2-5 on that magic day.

Clifford is the fulcrum around which this Kerry side’s attacking play revolves, and his pinpoint passing is a joy for football purists who see something of an old-style footballer in him. He is a sharpshooter himself, but also creates space for his fellow forwards to prosper.

His class is underlined and he is touted throughout Kerry as being the next generations Pat Spillane or Colm Cooper. That is unsurprising judging by goals like this one.

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