At full back look for Rafferty to sit in and take Downey. The former Galway and London player has fit right in with the Rebels.
David Crimmins, Jack Hoare and Kevin Cotter look like mainstays in the half line, but Liam Hanley and John Fitzpatrick will be pushing them all the way for final places.
Midfield will see two of the following three -- Rory Stafford, Sean Lordon and Colin Daly. Staff plays very big, and last Sunday he kept the ball out of the Tyrone hands by breaking or catching. Look for more of the same.
Lordon leads with his desire. A former Cork minor, his heart is a huge positive. Daly is off the Dublin panel and may be on the 40 or in the middle. An excellent ball carrier well capable of firing over the bar or steam rolling to goal.
The forward line has a number of players who come off county teams -- Rory Woods with Monaghan, Ciaran Lyng with Wexford, Francie Cleary with London. Joe O’Neill is a goal scoring corner man, and he ghosts in behind the full back line.
Woods looks to be happier on the 40, while Lyng will be very difficult to contain although he does have a tendency to drift out of a game if the ball is not coming his way.
J.P. Boyle kicks the frees from the left, while Lyng takes the ones from the right, Boyle played for New York in an earlier tour and should be around the panel for the Galway contest in a week’s time. A terrific striker of a dead ball, distance is not a problem.
Cleary is being used off the bench and should be injury free after a trip to the hospital after the semifinal. He is a fantastic ball carrier who sets up his inside forwards. Nicky Dineen will also have a shot at a starting slot, with Pat Mahoney very likely to come off the bench at some point in the final.
Both sides have very valid reasons to be confident heading into the game. Always a betting man to the very end, the bank is at 215 after Roscommon won last week but did not cover the three points, as Cork got the victory and made up the loss with a five spot to spare.
Both sides could explode for scores at any minute based on their attacking formations. Will the defenses be able to stay with them?
Cork have the better man markers with the Downey/Rafferty, McCarthy/O’Rourke and Hoare/Sloan battles pivotal. Down at the other end will set up Mitchell on Woods, Cornyn/Dineen, Dalton or McGrory/Boyle in an attempt to get the win.
We will not shy away from this year’s tradition in the final week, and have 20 tickets saying the forwards will win, taking over on 25 points scored.
Who will win? It will come down to the wire, with the men from the banks of their own lovely Lee going all the way. Twenty further tics say they will.
On a side note, no betting involved, Cork 1-15 Down 0-14. It promises to be a thrilling ride.
Views from the final camps
Down manager Ciaran Fearon
Thoughts on final day? It’s our second in a row and we have had enormous success in the last four years. When I started with Down with got one point in two seasons at Junior A. We couldn’t win a game at all. This will be our fifth final in four years. While it is brilliant, we need to win it now.
How do you view Cork? They have a very good team. While we beat them before by 11 points we know that Cork will be favorites after their win on Sunday. It will be who turns up on the day and who wants it most. A lot of teams would love to be in our shoes with a chance to play for a county title.
How has your team grown? Robbie Moran helped to change the team and has been a huge addition. A tremendous player. James Mitchell has also had a huge influence on the side. Our sanctions have helped to pave the way to the final. It’s true that sanctions help to win. We did, however, have a large home base on the field for the semifinal.
Turning points of the season? We had a couple of stumbling blocks in the middle that we got over. Certainly the quarterfinal was a far tougher game than the semi and it showed us a lot. We will have know illusions about Sunday however.
Cork selector Liam Bermingham
Thoughts on final day? No one in the club now has been involved in a final before apart from the Kielys. It is 54 years since we won it and 37 since a final. We are thrilled to be there, but there is one game left to be played.
Thoughts on Down? They gave us a good beating last time out, and they are a very good side when they hit form. A good footballing side that is strong going forward.
How has your team grown? We had a difficult three game period with Leitrim, Tyrone and Down. All quality opposition with our sanctions still needing to gel. We had a playoff slot from the first three wins so we were not too alarmed.
Players who helped get to this point? It is very unfair to single out players, but Alan Rafferty, Denis McCarthy, Sean Lordon, Rory Stafford to name a few have all played leading roles. We had 26 togged against Tyrone so it is hard to pick one player. It is a team effort.
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