GAA Editor @BrianGBarry
Munster Football Championship preview: Will Kerry remain kings in the south?
Last Updated: 06/05/19 4:21pm
With the 2019 Munster Senior Football Championship getting underway this weekend, we take a look at each of the contenders.
The Kingdom are gunning for a seventh consecutive provincial crown. Kerry have taken a firm control of Munster after Cork waned in recent years, winning the 2018 edition with 22 and 17-point wins over Clare and Cork respectively.
Peter Crowley's season-ending injury is a blow, but a host of talent was unearthed during the Allianz League campaign.
It would take a brave man to bet against them once again. After a largely positive league campaign, Peter Keane's charges are on an upward trajectory. As this young group continue to gel, they'll be a force to be reckoned with this summer as they attempt to bring down Dublin's 'drive for five'.
First things first, they face Clare or Waterford in the semi-final in their bid for another Munster title.
The chasing pack
The state of Cork football has been the subject of much debate in recent months, but five-year plans should be far from the minds of this current group.
Ronan McCarthy's side are on the opposite side of the draw to Kerry, and will appreciate the importance of securing safe passage back to the provincial decider.
For all the talk of club championship structures and the worrying dip in form amidst their latest relegation, the bottom line is that this current crop are under-performing, and are capable of delivering more.
Tipp's drop back to Division Three in the springtime was largely caused by an injury crisis, but Liam Kearns will welcome back some of his main men in time for the summer.
They host Limerick in the opening round, bidding to set up a semi-final against Cork for the fourth year in succession.
The bulk of this side have experience of reaching an All-Ireland semi-final in 2016, and will fancy their chances of reaching the Munster final.
Colm Collins' outfit have been unlucky with the draw in recent seasons, losing to Kerry three years in a row.
The Banner remain a threat, and will be eager to set the record straight after the 0-32 to 0-10 defeat by the Kingdom 12 months ago.
Although they are the second-highest ranking Munster team in terms of league placing, they may be set for the back door once again. Keelan Sexton's absence due to travels this summer comes as a setback.
In contrast with their hurlers' fortunes, the Treaty's footballers are struggling. Finishing seventh in Division Four, Billy Lee's side won't be fancied by many to make it past the first round in the Munster Championship. They travel to Thurles for their opener against Tipperary, as they attempt to pick themselves up and begin to return to where they were 10 years ago, competing with the big guns in Munster.
The Déise footballers' back-door win over Wexford was one of the more memorable moments of the 2018 championship. They secured three wins in Division Four earlier this year, and will feel that they are capable of building on those results. However, they may have a more realistic chance of picking up victories in the qualifiers once again this season.
What the experts are saying
"With Cork so far down [the pecking order], Kerry will win Munster."
Senan Connell is backing the Kingdom
Sky Sports' live GAA coverage gets underway on Saturday, May 11 as Dublin face Kilkenny in the Leinster Hurling Championship opener.