Cork to clinch promotion
It’s set to be another relatively quiet weekend with the Cork footballers looking to maintain their unbeaten run, and with it promotion to Division 2, as Louth are visitors to Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Following their win over Kilkenny last Sunday, the Cork senior camogie team play Offaly where a win will strengthen their position at the top of Group A.
Of course, the big question right now is, how much longer games can continue given the current health issues in the country?
We can only wait and see what evolves in the coming days or weeks.
Cork vs Louth
It’s a case of top versus bottom in this clash. Cork are on full points while Louth have yet to pick up a point in their five games to date and are set to face relegation to Division 4.
Games between these counties are rare enough, without doubt the most memorable - especially for the men from the Wee County - was the 1957 All-Ireland Final which Louth won by 1-9 to 1-7.
Among those playing that day was the famous entertainer Dermot O’Brien for Louth, while Padraig Harrington’s father Paddy was right half-back on the Cork team.
Their most recent meeting was in the league in Páirc Uí Rinn two years ago, a match which Cork won by 2-12 to 0-11.
Cork’s form has been impressive for the most part throughout the league to date, but their failure to see out games has frustrated manager Ronan McCarthy and this was very evident in the win over Derry last time out.
Cork led at one stage by 3-11 to 0-10, yet only won by two points in the end and McCarthy was disappointed with that.
“I thought for the most part of the last ten minutes we just seem to switch off and allowed Derry back into the game.”
Overall though, he's delighted at the position they find themselves in.
“Yes we are almost certain to be promoted, and we get another game in Croke Park which will benefit the lads going forward. We have faced a lot of challenges in this group and we have worked our way through them which is good.”
The other plus that can be taken from the games is the number of players that have been given game time.
Injuries ruled several players out of some matches while others, like Mark Collins, have yet to play.
Brian Hurley featured just once, which has allowed players to gain invaluable experience of intercounty football.
The starting 15 for Sunday will be interesting; Liam O’Donovan and Luke Connolly picked up knocks against Derry while Ruairi Deane was injured for that match and may not be ready for this encounter.
Mattie Taylor, Killian O’Hanlon, Ian Maguire, Paul Kerrigan, Sean Powter - who has been a revelation in every game he has played in, John O’Rourke and Tom Clancy all look set to feature when Cork go about securing their place at the top of the table, with a trip to Longford to come a week later.
It’s been a tough campaign for Louth and their loss to Leitrim in the last round was a real blow, especially as they were playing at home.
They do have some good players in Ryan Burns, Dan Corcoran, Emmet Carolan and Sean Mulroy and they will be keen to try and at least salvage something from a poor run of results.
The reality, though, is Cork will have too much class and power all over the field and a win is on the cards.
It’s a 2pm start and it's live on C103.
Cork travel to Banagher in Offaly on Saturday for a game that was postponed a few weeks ago, and based on the manner in which they saw off Kilkenny last weekend, it will take a big effort from Offaly to deny Cork another win.
With just the group winners qualifying for the final, another win will make Cork strong favourites to advance and face Munster rivals Tipperary in the decider. Tipp ended Galway’s reign as league champions last Sunday to reach a first final in 11 years.
Cork were very impressive in defeating Kilkenny. Laura Tracey and Chloe Sigerson were excellent in defence, Ashling Thompson brings a real cutting edge to midfield, while in attack the pace of Amy O’Connor, Orla Cronin and Linda Collins is a handful for any defence and they should be too strong for the girls from the Faithful County.
Meanwhile on Sunday on the back of their comfortable win over Kildare last week, it's Leinster opposition again this week for the Division 2 side with Westmeath travelling to Castle Road for a 2pm start.
An interesting development at last weekend’s Annual Congress where a Dublin motion that would have seen greater co-operation in relation to dual players was surprisingly heavily defeated.
The reaction of most players, particularly in Cork who seem to be affected more than others, was one of surprise and in some cases disappointment.
It seems strange that in a year when the emphasis is very much on the promotion of more participation in ladies sport with the 20x20 campaign that such a decision should be arrived at.