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Back to Nowlan Park for crucial game for U21s

Wednesday, 1st August, 2018 4:52pm

Cork vs Wexford

There was mixed fortunes last weekend when the Intermediate hurlers won the All-Ireland title but the seniors fell agonisingly short in their epic encounter with Limerick.

However the intercounty hurling season keeps on going for another week at least as the Under 21 side travel to Nowlan Park, the scene of last week’s win, as they face Wexford in the All-Ireland semi-final.

The big task for the management team this week centered on the lads that played, or indeed were involved, in Croke Park on Sunday.

I spoke to manager Denis Ring at the conclusion of training on Tuesday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, and he explained the process. “Obviously we were all disappointed with the result on Sunday, but we had a recovery session arranged for Monday night and the lads were there, while they trained with us tonight, so we are delighted with their response.”

As for Wexford, Denis is well aware of their ability: “They are a very good team and could so easily have won the Leinster Championship. They were denied, as everyone knows, by an injury time goal in extra-time, so that’s a fair indication of what we are facing.”

Denis also accepts that their (Wexford’s) preparation might be a bit better. “Well it’s been uninterrupted anyway, but we have faced this situation before and we coped; the lads have been excellent so we are happy where we are.”

I put it to Denis that the match, on the basis of last Sunday’s result, has taken on a new significance for Cork hurling, and his reply was emphatic. “I agree and as a group we accept that and are approaching it that way, we hope to give the county a lift by winning.”

The manager is also quite happy with the venue.

“It’s a brilliant pitch, we had a training run there last week and it’s in great condition and we are really looking forward to going there.”

It has the makings of a fascinating contest as Wexford have been good at this level in recent years and have quality players in all lines of the field including Jack Cushe, the O’Connors - Rory and Joe, Gary Molloy, Seamus Casey and the highly rated Damien Reck.

Cork, of course, will look to the senior players for leadership, and in this regard Darragh Fitzgibbon, Mark Coleman and Shane Kingston have not been found wanting, but on this occasion they are coming in on the back of a loss, but knowing the lads involved they will deliver.

There are also others who have excelled in the wins over Waterford, and in particular the demolition of Tipperary, such as Tim O’Mahoney, Jack O’Connor, Billy Hennessey, Ger Collins, Declan Dalton and Eoghan Murphy.

Cork will start as favourites, based on their Munster Final display, but Wexford will be formidable opposition. Both counties will see this championship as vital in terms of developing players for the senior side, another angle to this intriguing encounter.

A hard one to call but a nod to Cork who would appear to have a better balance to the team and good options on the bench.

It's a 4pm throw-in for this game and it will be broadcast live on C103.

Keep an eye on

There's a limited programme again this weekend, a case of the calm before the storm, because after this, it will be all systems go as the drive to conclude the championship’s ahead of Munster Council deadlines loom on the horizon.

There are just two games to be played, both on Friday night at 7.30pm. Ballincollig is the venue for the intermediate hurling clash of Na Piarsaigh and Ballymartle, with the city side fancied to advance.

Meanwhile the Junior B Footballers of Ballincurra and Grange return to Páirc Uí Rinn for their replay in the County Final, drama at the end last week, and it could be as close again.

In Ladies Football, Cork should secure their place in the All-Ireland semi-final when they play Westmeath on Monday in the quarter-final at 4.45pm in the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh is the venue for the All-Ireland Senior Camogie quarter-finals on Saturday, without Cork involvement as they are safely into the semi-final.

Tipperary and Waterford at 5.30pm, with Galway vs Dublin (the winners here play Cork) to follow at 7.15pm.

Best wishes to young Glen Rovers camogie player Lisa O’Riordan who represents Cork and Munster in the All-Ireland Under 16 Puc Fada over the Cooley Mountain track on Saturday.

Cork seniors

The disappointment of last Sunday’s defeat will linger for some time especially with the players and management, who as we all know, were literally minutes away from the final.

There was no real turning point, just a few small little things that did not go our way in those closing minutes. Patrick Horgan’s effort coming back off the post that would have made it a three point game, but instead Limerick scored at the other end, and of course, Quaid’s block on Seamus Harnedy.

There was also a couple of harsh calls against Eoin Cadogan and Bill Cooper for over carrying and how the referee did not give a free for the foul on Daniel Kearney that led to Limerick’s first goal, we will never know.

All these things aside, Limerick deserve immense credit for battling back in the closing stages, without scoring a goal, and will be very hard to stop now as they bid to end a 45 year wait for what will only be their eighth title.

It’s been a magnificent hurling championship to date and Cork can be proud of their contribution. The players and management are to be congratulated on their efforts - they more than anyone will come back stronger and more determined than ever to take that extra step.

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