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Kerry on guard as cagey Cork come to Killarney

Former Kerry star Colm Cooper is confident the Kingdom will not succumb to the pressure of favouritism and be caught out by a ‘cagey’ Cork side in this weekend’s Munster final.

Having claimed the scalp of All-Ireland champions Dublin in the League final, Kerry are hotly tipped to claim a Munster five-in-a-row in Killarney on Sunday, and Cooper believes there is little chance Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s charges take their eyes off the ball at Fitzgerald Stadium.

“If you’re looking at form and looking through the League you’d have say Kerry would be very strong favourites given they are the League champions and were the first team to beat Dublin in quite a while,” the five-time All-Ireland winner told 2fm’s Game On.

“Cork have had a very mixed League, and in their two Championship outings so far have been less than impressive.

“But Kerry will be very much on guard. Cork will be coming down for an ambush.  

“I was at the Tipperary match and Cork struggled for a huge amount of that game, but looking back on it they could have had two goals in the first half that could have made the game very different.

“I know from playing big games against Cork in Killarney, although they haven’t beaten Kerry in 20 years here, they’ve had a few draws and a few near misses. I’ve no doubt they will raise their game.”

With Cork rank outsiders with the bookmakers, the Rebels travel west free of expectation, a situation Cooper acknowledges poses a threat to the Kingdom.

“All the pressure is on Kerry,” he added. “Cork and their supporters will come down without a huge amount of confidence. They can just go at it, no one is expecting them to beat Kerry in Killarney, so for Kerry that’s a very dangerous place to be.

“Cork will be very defensive in the early part of the game and hang in there as long as they can, and if they can do that it will give a huge amount of confidence.

“They’ll be cagey early on and won’t want Kerry to get a four or five-point lead, because that spells danger for them if that happens.”

Elsewhere, Mayo host Derry in the qualifiers and despite speculation that Mayo players have once again held a “crisis meeting”, Cooper doesn’t feel Derry are yet in a place to cause them problems in Castlebar.

“Being at home in Castlebar is a big plus for (Mayo),” Cooper said. “There’s rumours about that the players had another crisis meeting during the week, we don’t know if that’s accurate or not.

“There seems to be one every six months now. But in fairness, Mayo have the capability to turn it around. 

“Derry are a strange side. When you see Slaughtneil doing so well in the Ulster club championship you expect a bigger performance from Derry in the championship, but it doesn’t always work out like that.

“Derry have been in the doldrums for the last couple of years and I just don’t know when they are going to turn the corner. I’ve a feeling it won’t be this weekend.”

Sunday’s Munster football final between Kerry and Cork is live on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Radio 1’s Sunday Sport from 1:30pm on Sunday. Mayo’s clash with Derry is also live on RTÉ2 from 4:30pm on Saturday, with updates on Radio 1’s Saturday Sport.

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