Must win game for Cork
Cork vs Limerick
In the immediate aftermath of last Sunday’s defeat to Tipperary, manager John Meyler, while expressing disappointment, was quick to switch focus to Limerick next Sunday. “Tipperary were better and sharper and we have no complaints, but the beauty of the championship is that we go again next Sunday with a huge game against Limerick.”
Meyler explained the circumstances that ruled Bill Cooper out of the match: “Bill had a back spasm but hopefully he will recover for next Sunday.”
Cooper's loss was incalculable, as apart from his incredible workrate, the midfielder is always good for a few points in every game.
The subsequent re-shuffle, obviously upset the game plan, and it didn’t work. Robbie O’Flynn never got to the pitch of the game, while for the first time in a big game, neither Daniel Kearney or Darragh Fitzgibbon had any impact on proceedings and that hurt Cork.
Tipp were much better but were helped by a very poor Cork display. There was only one period in the match that Cork played as well as we know they can; they overturned a six point deficit to take the lead. However a few simple and basic mistakes allowed Tipp regain the momentum and with it they comfortably saw the game out.
Why were Cork off the pace? It's hard to put a finger on it but only a few players emerged with their reputations intact. In defence, Niall O’Leary had an excellent debut and Eoin Cadogan justified his selection at full-back. In attack, Patrick Horgan was outstanding, while to a lesser extent Shane Kingston had a good outing.
What of Limerick? All-Ireland champions last August and now also the National League champions, even if it’s their opening game of the championship having had a bye last week, they will be well primed for this test.
At a recent press briefing manager John Kiely was making light of this being their opener. “It's no big deal, it’s just the way the draw worked, but we will prepare as well as we have done all year and be ready for Cork.”
There is little doubt that this is a quality Limerick side, the manner in which they have carried themselves since winning the All-Ireland has been very impressive, and then to win the league is a measure of their strength.
Nicky Quaid, Richie English, Declan Hannon and Diarmaid Byrnes are excellent defenders.
Cian Lynch is a powerhouse in midfield, while in attack Kyle Hayes, Aaron Gillane, Gearoid Hegarty and Graeme Mulcahy will trouble any defence.
What if any changes will Cork make? Cooper, obviously if fit, will start and maybe Alan Cadogan will get named in the panel adding another option to the attack.
Defensively, will Damien Cahalane start? Will they persevere with Tim O’Mahoney at centre-back? With Colm Spillane injured, management may be unwilling to pitch Robert Downey in for such a crucial game, so their options are limited.
What is needed more than anything is a different approach, an increased workrate especially in attack, and to not allow Limerick execute their game plan.
Cork won in the LIT Gaelic Grounds in the league, but this will be a lot harder - Limerick will not want to lose in front of what is sure to be a passionate home crowd.
Up to last Sunday, Cork were unbeaten in Munster in the last three years, and another defeat would not only end their hopes of a three in a row of Munster titles, it would also make it very hard to advance in third place, and that would effectively mean season and championship ambitions over.
It is going to be extremely difficult to win, and if the attitude and approach is like last Sunday, they won’t, but even if there is an improvement and I have no doubt there will be, that might be good enough against this Limerick side.
Like Cork, Waterford go into their second game away to a Tipperary side in buoyant mood after their win on Leeside, knowing that another defeat will put them under pressure
The odds favour a Tipp win, but just like last week could we have two away wins? Suprising when in last year’s championships, not one team won away from home.
The opening game in the LIT Gaelic Grounds is Cork and Limerick in minor and John Considine's charges will have been boosted by the margin and manner of their win over Tipperary, and with it being Limerick’s first game, Cork have a decided advantage.
With seven players that featured in last year’s campaign, Cork saw the benefits of that last week. The spine of the team was solid with the majority of the players coming from clubs playing in the higher grade of minor in the county.
Brian Sanderson, Cian McCarthy and Ciaran Joyce, Ethan Twomey, Luke Horgan, Daniel Hogan and Jack Cahalane all impressed. Colm McCarthy and Darragh Flynn were very effective hitting some lovely points. A repeat performance should be good enough to get Cork another win, which would put them in a strong position to make the final. Both games will be live on C103.
Just one intercounty game this week, Cork vs Tipperary in the Munster Intermediate Championship Final, in Kilmallock on Saturday at 2.30pm.