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Cork can make it to final again

Wednesday, 25th July, 2018 4:57pm

“The Munster Final was parked at 5pm on 1 July and our focus switched immediately to the All-Ireland semi-final, that has been the way since the Championship started,” according to Cork manager John Meyler.

Meyler did admit that apart from one light session, they gave the players the week off to “recover from what was a rigorous and energy sapping Munster campaign”.

Patrick Horgan, the PWC/GPA Hurler of the Month for June, said: “I think we are better prepared this year, and a better team, but we still face huge task against a good Limerick team on Sunday.” Meyler expressed the same sentiments. “They are a very good team, remember in the Park they lost two players early and got a well-deserved draw with 14, so we know exactly what we are facing on Sunday.”

John also confirmed they would be picking from a full squad. “Yeah all good to go, Mark Ellis is back training, Darren Browne has a bit of hamstring but everyone else is ready.”

Limerick come into this game on the back of wins over Carlow, and far more impressively against Kilkenny, showing they have recovered from their abysmal display in Ennis, where they were well beaten. Manager John Kiely has been pleased with his side’s response. “Obviously (we were) very disappointed leaving Ennis, but the lads have responded well as they did when Kilkenny took the lead late on the last day. I have always said there is great spirit in our team and I am not surprised where we are.”

As for playing in Croke Park, Kiely maintains it will not be an issue, as “a lot of the lads have played there, in colleges and club finals so no problem”. That sounds simple but there is a big difference between a colleges or club final and All-Ireland semi-final day with 60,000 packed into the stadium.

Cork have had a three week run in to this game; the last time the sides met it was Cork’s third game in 13 days. It all boils down to whichever side performs best on the day - consistency over 70 minutes is something neither side has managed all year.

Limerick have shown all year what they are capable of. In the past, teams from that county would have folded as the pressure increased but there is a bit more about this side. There has been periods in games that they were vulnerable and better teams would have taken advantage - Kilkenny very nearly did. If a similar scenario occurs on Sunday, Cork must be ruthless.

There is a nice balance to this Limerick side; Nicky Quaid, Diarmuid Byrnes and Declan Hannon are quality defenders, but they will need to be at their best to contain the Cork attack. Patrick Horgan, Seamus Harnedy and Daniel Kearney in a different role, have been a revelation all season, and if Conor Lehane can deliver a big performance and he is due one, Cork will be in a strong position.

Midfield will be key; Darragh Fitzgibbon and Bill Cooper up against Cian Lynch and Darragh O’Donovan - all excellent players on great form - and contributing some classy scores as well.

The Cork rearguard was in difficulty against Clare in the first half of the Munster Final, but a few shrewd switches and an improved display turned the game. Colm Spillane, Eoin Cadogan, Christopher Joyce and Mark Coleman can put the shackles on any attack and behind them Anthony Nash is as reliable and as accurate as ever.

Aaron Gillane, Tom Morrissey, Gearoid Hegarty and Kyle Hayes will feature for Limerick, but can they outsmart the Cork defence?

It has the makings of a cracking contest which will almost certainly go to the wire.

Patrick Horgan made a good point last week. “We are in exactly the same position as we were this time last year, and we lost, that was a failure, now we feel we are a better team and in a better position and want to go one step further.” It’s a sentiment I concur with - Cork to win.

 

Elsewhere

Before the big one, Cork play Kilkenny in the All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling Final in Nowlan Park on Saturday at 2pm. It’s the first game in the competition for both teams, not ideal. It’s a repeat of last year’s final which Kilkenny won, so with them now having to field a new team, Cork should win.

Having defeated Monaghan last Saturday scoring 7-7, the Cork Ladies Footballers should guarantee themselves a place in the quarter-final by defeating Armagh in Ballinasloe on Saturday.

It’s a limited county c’ship programme, starting on Friday night with a double header in Páirc Uí Rinn at 6.30pm. In the Junior B Football Final, it’s Ballinacurra v Grange and at 8.15pm, the hurling final features Whites Cross v O’Donovan Rossa. In the Intermediate C’ship on Saturday, it’s Clonakilty v Ballydesmond in Macroom at 7.30pm.

The SE Systems County Senior Camogie C’ship continues on Friday in Castle Road. It’s a Muskerry derby with champions Inniscarra facing Cloughduv, while in Blarney, it’s Glen Rovers v Milford, with both games at 7.30pm. It’s back to Castle Road on Saturday for the final two games in the first round. At 4.30pm, St Finbarr’s v Muskerry and at 7.30pm it’s St Catherines v Courcery Rovers.

Bernard Corcoran of Nemo Rangers is currently hospitalised. Bernard is a popular fixture at the press door in Páirc Uí Rinn and Páirc Uí Chaoimh, hopefully we will see him back there very shortly.

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