WHILE IT HAS often been the opposite in the men’s game, Kerry have lived in the shadow of Cork in the TG4 Ladies Football All-Ireland Senior Championship for almost a decade.
While the Kingdom have won 11 All-Irelands, including nine in a row from 1982-90, their last win in 1993. In contrast, Cork, who had now won a Munster title before 2004, have won the Brendan Martin Cup in six of the last seven years and are hoping to retain their title on Sunday against the Kingdom in Croke Park.
Bernie Breen played on the first-ever Kerry side beaten by Cork in the senior championship back in 1999. She points out that things are not exactly bleak from their point of view, however.
“We’ve been there or thereabouts for the past few years,” she says. “Tyrone beat us in the semi-final in 2010 after they had beaten Cork, we lost by a point, and then last year Monaghan beat us by nine in the semi as well.
“We’ve stuck together, though, we knew that there was something in us that we could get to a final and hopefully win it.”
The Munster final between the sides in July saw Cork triumph by 3-12 to 2-9 in Páirc Uí Rinn. At half-time the reigning champions led by 2-6 to 0-1, however, so Breen is aware that there is room for improvement.
“In Munster I suppose we didn’t really do ourselves any justice, it’s like a Munster final again on Sunday. It’s nice to see one Kerry team up here in September or October!
“It’s a great achievement for ladies football in Kerry, even to encourage underage activity. I think so, it’s basically the same thing! Nobody likes to lose a game, especially to your rivals.”
Kerry can be had at 13/2 with the bookmakers for Sunday, with Cork at 1/10. Such a state of affairs only suits them, in Breen’s view.
“I think it’s great to be the underdogs going into it, there is less focus on you,” she says. “I think that there is more pressure on Cork really. We’ve been underdogs in most games, it probably suits us and puts less pressure on us.
“We need a good start. We have a bit of a reputation for starting slow and then the game might be gone away from you by the time you get into it. Hopefully we can put that right on Sunday.”