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Cork Independent

Game On

Time for footballers to deliver

Wednesday, 19th July, 2017 5:19pm

When the Sunday Game panel ranked the 12 teams left in the All-Ireland Football Championship, Cork were ranked 11th and 12th by two of the analysts and I suspect Aaron Kernan did not want to upset his fellow Ulster county, Down, by placing them 12th.

It’s hard to argue with the assessment given the displays all year and the virtual capitulation to Kerry in Killarney – that coming on the back of narrow wins over lowly Waterford and then Tipperary.

Everyone, myself included, felt that the trip across the county bounds would galvanise the team but that did not happen.

In the after-match interviews manager Peadar Healy, rightly it must be said, pointed out the missed goal chances but that should not mask what was yet another poor and disjointed performance that left the big Cork support baffled, yet again.

While not privy to what happens in the training sessions, it seems strange that a number of players that were central to the win over Tipperary saw no action in Killarney.

Saturday in the Gaelic Grounds is, in effect, the last chance saloon. Win and it opens up all possibilities – would Cork fancy their chances against Roscommon in the Quarter-Final? Lose and it’s year over.

Cork go into Saturday’s game on the back of that defeat in the Munster Final, while Mayo have the benefit of two wins over Derry and Clare; the latter comfortably in the end and remember Clare beat Cork in the league.

Mayo though are vulnerable, they always seem to be, but they are better than Cork right now and their big players are delivering when needed.

Aidan O’Shea, Killian O’Connor, Lee Keegan, Tom Parsons, Donal Vaughan and Seamus O’Shea have a wealth of experience, and despite the heartbreaking losses of recent years, they keep coming back and are ranked among the top five in the country on a regular basis.

For all that, their record against Cork was, up until recently, poor – but they have had the upper hand in the last numbers of games and will be fancied by many to maintain that sequence in this qualifier.

What of Cork? The composition of the team probably won’t be known until Friday but very few players emerged from the Killarney debacle with their reputations enhanced.

James Loughrey, Ian Maguire and the energetic Sean Powter, who was so effective on Donnacha Walsh who was called ashore at half-time, were Cork’s best players.

Donnacha O’Connor also impressed when introduced, while it might be time to give Eoin Cadogan a start as his tenacity and drive might just be what the team needs right now.

Whatever 15 is named, it’s the 15 that takes to the field that will be charged with rescuing what has been a very disappointing season to-date.

It’s time for leaders to stand up and Paul Kerrigan, Michael Shields, Alan O’Connor, Aidan Walsh and Mark Collins fit into this category.

There is very few who give Cork a chance of winning. On form hard it’s hard to see them doing just that, but it is also being said there is one big game in this team. Will we see it on Saturday? Let’s hope so as anything less and it’s looking like a comfortable win for an improving Mayo team, but one that can also be beaten.

County Championship

With two big games in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, there is a very limited schedule of games in the coming days.

Glen Rovers and Argideen Rangers meet in a third Intermediate Hurling Championship game in Brinny on Friday night at 8pm. The city side lost to Midleton in a replay last time out but are boosted by the return of Andrew Evans and provided they do not lose anymore players to their seniors, should have enough in hand to get into the fourth round.

On Tuesday next, in Senior Football, an interesting encounter in Clonakilty at 7.30pm between the champions Carbery Rangers and Douglas; with a lot of quality players on both sides who are returning to action after a long delay, complicated by the involvement of Cork players in hurling and football.

The fact that it is not a knockout should make a lively and open game between two very good teams, with a nod to ‘Ross to win.

Under 21 Munster Hurling Final

Cork travel to the Gaelic grounds on Wednesday next to face a Limerick side buoyed by excellent and impressive wins over Tipperary and Clare, while it took a last-gasp goal for Cork to defeat Waterford.

To be fair, Cork won that game with very few players playing well, the exceptions being Darragh Fitzgibbon and Billy Hennessey and both could miss the final. Fitzgibbon was very harshly sent-off, in my opinion, and needs to win an appeal; while Hennessey picked up an injury and looks set to miss out. Of course, Luke Meade is also out injured.

For all that though, there is probably more pressure on Limerick to win, playing at home and the only intercounty team still in with a chance of bringing silverware to the banks of the Shannon. They will look to Cian Lynch, Aaron Gillane (0-14 in the win over Clare), Kyle Hayes, Thomas Grimes and Tom Morrissey to guide them to a much-needed Munster title.

Cork will enter the game as underdogs but are boosted by the manner in which they won the game in Walsh Park and they will need big displays from – among others – Mark Coleman, Michael O’Halloran, Chris O’Leary, Shane Kingston and Eoghan Murphy if they are to upset the odds.

Declan Dalton has a big role to play and if he is as effective as he was in Walsh Park, Cork are well capable of winning and in the process, complete the Grand Slam in Munster Hurling in what will be Cork’s 24th game in Munster Championships between hurling and football this year – no mean feat.

The game is live on C103.

Elsewhere

In a somewhat strange situation, the Cork Intermediate hurlers play their first championship game of the season when they meet Kilkenny in the All-Ireland Final in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday with a 2pm start.

Kilkenny have the benefit of two games to win the Leinster Championship. Cork were the only county interested in the Munster Championship and that should give the Cats a slight edge, but a nice honour for the Cork lads to play in the new stadium.

Camogie

A busy few days coming up in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Intermediate Championship. Cork travel to Laois on Saturday, where a win will almost certainly secure them a place in the knock-out phase of the Championship.

In the SE Systems County Senior Championship, Mallow play Carbery on Sunday, time and venue to be confirmed.

Killeagh vs Courcey Rovers in Castle Road on Tuesday and two games on Wednesday in Castle Road, where it’s Inniscarra vs Sarsfields and in Rathcormac, Glen Rovers meet St Catherines; all games to be played at 7.30pm.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh

A momentous weekend for Cork GAA with the All-Ireland Hurling Quarter-Finals in the new stadium over two days and the expectation is that it will be a full house on both days.

Let’s hope everything runs smoothly and while there is bound to be a few little glitches, let’s hope everyone enjoys the occasion in what is sure to be the first of many big days in the spiritual home of Cork GAA, ‘The Park’.

Congratulations and best wishes to all involved in this magnificent project.

It’s a credit to all involved that it is now a stadium we can all be proud of.

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