Tuesday 19 June 2018

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Another big game for Cork hurlers

Wednesday, 30th May, 2018 4:30pm

The games are coming thick and fast, and for the third week in a row, Cork face a big game. It’s not exactly a must-win one but victory would go a long way to ensure they advance to the next phase of the championship, even the Munster Final.

At the launch of the championship a few weeks ago, all the managers were making the very same point, that this format would test the resolve and depth of every squad.

On that score, Limerick go into this game in the ideal circumstances, a week’s rest and on the back of a very impressive win over Tipperary, or will the break have taken the edge off their game and any momentum gained lost?

For Cork, while fatigue might be a factor, the fact that they are unbeaten will give them confidence and it is also noticeable that the players themselves relish the prospect of playing regularly.

Conor Lehane remarked: “You can’t beat playing, even every week, that is what you train for.”

That is the mindset of the panel which suggests they are enjoying the new format. The other plus for Cork is that they have home advantage, and to be fair, the support this team are receiving is excellent evident again in Thurles last Sunday when they matched, and probably outnumbered, the home support.

In the immediate aftermath of the draw, many felt it was a point dropped, but as manager John Meyler remarked to the media afterwards: “I would have taken three out of four points after two games, and overall I am very pleased with the display. Okay there were a few errors in the second half, but this is a learning curve for some of our younger players and we are going in the right direction.”

As for the six day turn around: “We have an excellent strength and conditioning team and they will have the boys in good nick for Saturday.”

Limerick will travel confident of maintaining their good form, they finally gained promotion from 1B and when Tipperary came back at them the last day, they had the resolve to hold them off and gain a deserved win.

Previous Limerick teams would have capitulated in the face of such a challenge but this would appear to a side with a different mindset, obviously the success at under 21 level is standing to this group.

There’s is a mixture of youth and experience, all with quality who will test Cork.

Nicky Quaid is an exceptional goalkeeper, while in defence Seamus Hickey and Diarmuid Byrne are solid with the very talented Cian Lynch in midfield. In attack, Gearoid Hegarty, Graeme Mulcahy and Aaron Gillane will prove a handful for any defender.

A feature of Cork’s play to date has been the excellence in defence with Sean O’Donoghue, Mark Coleman, Damien Cahalane and Colm Spillane outstanding while Nash was brilliant last Sunday.

Cooper and Fitzgibbon have been consistent in midfield, while in the forwards Seamus Harnedy has played a captains part. Horgan and Lehane were quiet by their own high standards last Sunday, but that was offset by the excellence of Shane Kingston.

The starting 15 for Saturday will be interesting - will the selectors opt for the same or take the opportunity to test the depth of the panel?

Darren Browne and Lorcan McLoughlin might be considered for the defence, while Dean Brosnan and Mike Cahalane are options in attack.

Whatever 15 is chosen, and even allowing for the third game in a row, I feel Cork can and should win.

If the quality of play they produced in the first half last Sunday is repeated, Limerick will find it very hard to contain them.

Elsewhere

The first game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday is the minor meeting of Cork and Limerick at 5pm. It’s a must win game for Cork on the back of their heavy defeat by Tipperary last Sunday. Given the concession of goals, the expectation is there will be alterations in defence, if they are to have any chance of keeping their championship ambitions alive.

Both minor and senior games will be broadcast live on C103.

The Cork Ladies footballers begin their Munster Senior Championship campaign when they play Tipperary in Ardfinnan on Saturday at 2pm.

The home side were recently crowned Division 2 League champions and will test Cork but Ephie Fitzgerald’s charges should win; indeed a defeat would come as a huge surprise.

The second game in the Munster Senior Hurling Championship is the clash of Tipperary and Waterford in Limerick on Sunday at 4pm, and given the catalogue of injuries and the absence of the suspended Kevin Moran, it’s hard to see Waterford winning.

What will be interesting here is the size of the crowd; this is a home game for Waterford but the distance involved, not far off where they were last Sunday, Ennis, might keep many at home and Tipp fans are not really renowned for travelling either.

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