Must win game for hurlers
There were mixed fortunes for the Cork mens teams last weekend and they both go again on Sunday as the Allianz National Leagues near the pivotal stage.
It certainly is for the hurlers who must beat Galway in Salthill if they are to make the quarter-finals. However if results fall a certain way on Sunday, and both Cork and Waterford win, then the outstanding games cannot affect the final standings in the group.
Derry will provide the opposition for the footballers in Páirc Uí Chaoimh where a win would secure promotion to Division 2, and with it, a place in the final back in Croke Park.
Cork vs Galway
For the second game in a row, Cork failed to fire for the 70 minutes, and while they edged home against Westmeath, Limerick punished Kieran Kingston’s men - particularly for a mediocre first half.
Several Cork players were below par on Sunday and the consistency that you need just was not there.
Sunday represents, possibly, the last chance for players to stake a claim for a place in the championship panel, as a defeat would end our participation in the league.
Galway haven’t exactly been setting the world alight either and they need the win just as much as Cork, and they could be without Joe Canning as he is carrying an injury and might not be risked.
Manager Shane O’Neill will hope that home advantage will help and also that players of the quality such as James Skehill, TJ Brennan, Brian Concannon, Sean Loftus, Conor Whelan and Sean Cooney will get them over the line on Sunday.
The key for Cork on Sunday will be a consistent 70 minutes and to display the tenacity they showed in the second half against Limerick.
The starting 15 will be interesting, could Anthony Nash return in goal? In defence Robert Downey has really impressed and Colm Spillane continues to improve after a lengthy absence.
Midfield and attack remain an issue and getting the mix right will be crucial. Patrick Horgan and Shane Kingston have been the best so far, now it’s time for others to step up and deliver big displays. There's no doubt Darragh Fitzgibbon, Seamus Harnedy and Conor Lehane have the class, while Alan Cadogan is also expected to return.
A big performance is needed; if they play like they did in the second half of last Sunday they will win, anything less and the league campaign will peter out with more questions than answers ahead of the Munster Championship.
Cork v Derry
By contrast to last Saturday night's win over Tipperary, which was a fine open game as the final scoreline of 3-13 to 0-21 indicates, Sunday’s clash with Derry could be the very opposite.
Derry are managed by Rory Gallagher and how his teams set up are well known - with an emphasis on defence making it difficult for teams to break them down.
The Oak Leaf side have shown improved form in recent weeks; following a draw with Leitrim in their opening game, they then lost to Down, but wins over Tipperary and Louth have put them in the mix for promotion along with Longford and Down, with Cork still out in front.
Ben McCarron, Emmett Bradley, Ciaran McFaul, Eoghan Duffy, Chrissy McKaigue and Shane McGuigan should all feature for a Derry side that will be keen to maintain their winning run.
Cork have certainly given plenty of players an opportunity throughout the league, and with the injury list improving weekly, the depth in the squad is improving.
James Loughrey made his first start last Saturday, Ruairi Deane troubled the Tipp defence with his strong running, Luke Connolly took his goals as only Luke can, while Mattie Taylor was as efficient as ever in defence and also going forward.
Ian Maguire and Killian O’Hanlon endured a tough hour in Thurles but they remain key players in this team, and if they can get a grip on Sunday, they can provide the platform for another win.
Patience will be the key but this is a team playing with confidence enough to suggest they will remain unbeaten on Sunday.
There will be live coverage of both Cork games on C103.
Keep an eye on
The Dr Harty Cup Final, CBC vs St Flanann’s, weather permitting, will go ahead on Saturday in Mallow at 1pm and the postponement of two weeks ago will mean that Denis McSweeney should have recovered from injury to take his place and hand CBC a huge boost.
Mallow is also the venue on Sunday for Lidl Ladies Football Division 1 re-fixture Cork v Mayo at 2pm.
It’s a busy weekend for Cork camogie with three teams in action with the seniors travelling to play Clare, who had a great win over Kilkenny last week. This game is on Sunday, venue and time to be confirmed.
On Saturday in the All-Ireland Minor Championship, Cork must beat Tipperary in Castle Road at 2.30pm, where Cork must win if they are to remain on course for a third successive title having lost to Dublin in the first round.
In the Munster Under 16 A championship, Cork will have home advantage against Tipp; it’s a 12.30pm start in Castle Road.