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Crucial game for footballers

Wednesday, 13th March, 2019 4:33pm

Cork vs Donegal

Having finally got the win their hard work deserved in the last round against Tipperary, Cork now face another must win game when Donegal arrive in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday.

The form of the Ulster side has dipped somewhat in recent games which will make them dangerous opponents and the re-introduction of the Gweedore players, along with the very talented Michael Murphy, will certainly not weaken them.

They did get back to winning ways in the last round with a narrow one point victory over Ulster rivals Armagh that got their promotion hopes back on track after successive defeats to Fermanagh and Tipperary.

Declan Bonner will want to build on that win, and with Stephen Rochford now in his backroom team, Donegal will present Cork with a real test.

Donegal have a team that on their day are capable of testing anyone - Caolan Ward, Ryan McHugh and Stephen McMenamin are solid defenders.

Hugh McFadden will man one of the midfield berths, while apart from Murphy in attack, Niall O’Donnell and Jason McGee should feature.

In the immediate aftermath of the win in Thurles, Ronan McCarthy was very confident that Cork could avoid relegation: “It will probably take two wins for our last two games, but I feel we are well capable of doing that.”

The manager again reiterated how hard the players are working: “I know the effort the lads are putting in and we will go at it again for the next match, and hopefully we can get a similar result.”

Ronan did confirm, though that the returning Sean Powter, who made a vital contribution when introduced, will not start: “I don’t think so, look he’s been out for almost a full season, he has worked very hard to get back and we will be guided by our medical team and manage his return. He’s young and enthusiastic, but there’s a long year there, he will get plenty of games.”

Cork played well for the most part in Thurles, and at 0-11 to 0-4 looked set for an easy win, but a few simple errors and wrong options let Tipperary back into the game. But all credit to Cork, they held on for what yet could prove to be a vital two points.

Micheal Aodh Martin was excellent in goal - he made a great save at a vital time, Kevin Crowley, Mattie Taylor and Sam Ryan performed well and Ian Maguire worked himself to a standstill in midfield, executing one crucial turnover to deny Tipperary a score.

Mark Collins, Luke Connolly, Paul Kerrigan, Ruairí Deane and the Hurleys have a lot to offer in attack.

This is another huge test against a Donegal team that have been performing at a higher level than Cork in recent years, can they build on the last day and in the process maintain control of their own destiny in the competitive division? Let’s hope so.

The final game is away to Armagh, it would be nice to head there on the back of two wins.

The curtain-raiser here is the Lidl Ladies Football Division 1 League meeting of the same counties at 12pm, and on the back of their win over Monaghan, Cork will hoping for another victory to keep their hopes of a semi-final spot alive.

Cork vs Kilkenny

A match neither side really wants to play, but in a strange way it serves a purpose as both had players red carded last Sunday and this game will see them serve a one match ban, freeing them up for championship in May.

John Meyler was fuming last Sunday, and when I put it to him that this Saturday's was a meaningless match, his response was: “No it’s not after that display, we need a big game - I'm very disappointed, we lacked leaders out there and that’s not good enough.”

John did accept that missing key players was a factor: “We will have a few back but that’s not an excuse, we should have been better, especially after the display in Limerick.”

For now though it’s off to Nowlan Park, for a match that initially Brian Cody described as “futile”.

That may very well be the case but both will want to end what can only be described as poor league campaigns with a win, and given our record at the venue, the odds favour Kilkenny.

Midleton CBS vs

 

Given the number of times that Midleton have won games late on, you would begin to wonder is their name on the cup, well it's worth mentioning.

The Galway side had a comfortable win in their final, and having been runners up to St Kieran’s in last year’s final, they will be determined to get back there again.

The one thing that must be said about this Midleton side is that they never give up, as evidenced in their quarter-final win over Scoil Eoin.

They will need a consistent 60 minutes in this one if they are to make the final, and in Joe Stack (if fit), Jason Hankard, Ross O’Regan, Jack McGann, Cormac O’Brien and Ryan McCarthy, they have the players capable of doing just that.

CBC Cork vs St Kieran’s

 

The acid test for a CBC side buoyed by the manner in which they came from behind to win the O’Callaghan Cup Final last Friday, against a team that have dominated this competition in recent years.

CBC, though, have had two good wins since defeat in the Harty Final and that will help. Shane Barrett, Declan O’Hanlon, Cian Long, Padraig Power, Jack Cahalane and Killian O’Donovan are all quality players, but this might not be enough to end the champions' reign.

County championships

The opening games in the divisional and colleges section of the Senior Football Championship get under way with four games on Monday.

There's a double-header in Páirc Uí Rinn; at 4.15pm it's Avondhu vs Muskerry followed at 6.15pm by Imokilly vs Duhallow.

Brinny is the venue for the clash of CIT and Carbery while in Dunmanway it’s Seandun vs Beara, both at 3pm.

Given that they would all have limited, if any preparation, picking winners is not easy but the odds favour Muskerry, Duhallow, Seandun and CIT to advance.

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