Jack O'Connor points to Tyrone's failure last weekend to keep Kerry players focused 1 week ago

Jack O'Connor points to Tyrone's failure last weekend to keep Kerry players focused

"Look, that’s what happens when you’re not properly tuned in."

Jack O'Connor has been around the block long enough to know that just about any team, in any stage of the championship, can be a potential banana skin that slips you up.

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Kerry play Cork this weekend, and although this rivalry is steeped in history, it doesn't exactly have that feel to it to this year.

In the past decade or so The Rebels have slowly but surely fallen from grace as hurling becomes more popular, and the football side of things appears to have taken a backseat amongst the dominance of Dublin.

Kerry however, are still going from strength to strength, despite not winning an All-Ireland since 2014, this particular side look dangerous, hungry and ready to fire from all cylinders.

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With the expectation all on Kerry, Division One champions, to hammer Cork, a side that struggled greatly in Division Two, you could be guilty of thinking that the game is already as good as done.

However, The Kingdom's manager won't dare let any complacency seep into his players this time around, and was only too delighted by the other upsets in recent weeks that he can point to as case studies for his players, if they were to take their eye off the ball.

“You point out examples like Sunday, where Tyrone possibly weren’t properly tuned into the challenge facing them against Derry and they got turned over badly in their own backyard,” O'Connor told the Irish Examiner.

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“How many of you experts could see that coming? It’s always handy to have recent examples to say to players ‘look, that’s what happens when you’re not properly tuned in’.

“That outside stuff, people are only expressing opinions and they don’t really know what’s going on or they don’t really know what it’s like in that Championship bubble, so you have to ignore all that stuff because it softens you and it weakens you.

“If you’re wondering about the standard in Division 2, in the last two weekends two Division 2 teams have beaten Division 1 teams, so the players won’t need much reminding of the challenge we’re facing, regardless of what form Cork showed in the League."

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Of course it was only two years ago that Kerry had fell victim to a David vs Goliath story, where they were the giants that were slayed by an equally unassuming Cork side, in the Munster championship.

“It’s recent enough to remind players that you can never take anything for granted. I think Cork will be substantially better than they were in the League due to the very simple reason that they have players back who weren’t available to them.

"Cathail O’Mahony and Maurice Shanley, possibly Seán Powter and Paul Walsh and one or two others, so they will have a substantially stronger team than they had in some of those League games.

“I’ve been involved in too many battles with Cork to ever take them for granted. I know from my past battles that they rise to the challenge of playing Kerry, always.

“They obviously want to make a battle out of the game, that’s why they are taking us to Páirc Uí Rinn, and we have to make sure we are up for the battle, and that we’re tuned in properly."

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