Shane Kingston scoring his side’s third goal despite the efforts of Waterford goalkeeper Billy Nolan and Conor Prunty. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Four Cork teams in action on Saturday

Intercounty action returns this week finally and the hurlers and footballers head to Thurles, with Kildare and Tipperary providing the opposition. Both games are live on C103.

In camogie, now that the issue surrounding the split season has been resolved, it’s Cork and Tipperary in Division 1 and 2, with Páirc Uí Chaoimh and Drom-Inch the venues.

How both games could not be played in the same county is beyond me, spectators cannot attend but it would make life a lot easier for the respective board officers in terms of organisation.

Football

Cork v Kildare

Selector Sean Hayes was on media duties this week and addressed the issue of the session on Youghal beach which ultimately led to Manager Ronan McCarthy receiving a 12 week suspension.

“It was used as a bonding session, at the time there was some doubt about the GAA’s Elite Status so we felt we were in order in doing what we did, it didn’t work out that way and Ronan got his ban.”

The process of appeal was followed but the rest of the group got on with the business of preparing the team. “Look we moved on, we had to and since we got back to training, the players have worked hard.”

Unfortunately players have picked up injuries: “yes and it’s really tough as both Killian (O’Hanlon) and Aiden (Browne) will also miss out on their clubs which is a pity for them both. A few others are carrying slight knocks.”

Sean also confirmed that James Loughrey has called time on his inter-county career and paying tribute he said: “James has been an outstanding player since coming from Antrim and always gave of his best, he had a brilliant attitude and was great with the young players, it was his own decision and we wish him well.”

Sentiments I would concur with, a great defender and well able to take a score, and I can remember a goal he got in one of his early games. Best of luck in the future and he will continue to play for Mallow, with a county final against Eire Og to look forward to in the coming months.

The tight nature of the league, just three games - all away from home, is something that Sean is conscious of. “We want to get promotion to Division 1 which is important for Cork football, so every game is vital, lose one and you could be dragged into a relegation battle.”

In terms of preparation, Sean is happy with the work they have done which included a game against Dublin last Saturday. “That was a real eye opener especially for the younger lads against a reasonably strong Dublin side. We lost by one point, but it was an excellent work out and we were very happy with how it went.”

While the league is the priority as for the championship, “look it’s a bit down the road, there are no easy games in championship nowadays but all that can take care of itself. Kildare on Saturday is the focus right now.”

Injuries will shape the starting 15, but it should be backboned by a core of experienced players among them Micheál Aodh Martin, Ian Maguire, Sean Powter, Brian Hurley, Mark Collins and Luke Connolly if fit. Jack O’Connor is in his second year guiding the fortunes of the Lily Whites who narrowly missed out on promotion last year. In the Leinster Championship, they shipped six goals in the loss to Meath and that is an area he will have worked on in the weeks since they returned to training.

Jimmy Hyland, Daniel Flynn, Eoin Doyle, Mark Dempsey and Paddy Brophy were all part of that loss and will be keen to get off to a winning start.

As with the opening round of the hurling hard to pick a winner first time out, but Cork have a good record against Kildare and let’s hope it can be maintained.

Cork’s Munster Championship semi-final against Limerick or Waterford has been fixed for 10 July 10th with a 3pm start, Páirc Uí Chaoimh if it’s Waterford while the LIT Gaelic Grounds will host the game if Limerick win. Cork face Kildare in the NFL Division 2 South at 3.30pm in Thurles on Saturday.

Hurling

Cork v Tipperary

“Pleased with the win, a lot of good displays but still plenty of work to be done” were the words of Cork hurling selector Diarmuid O’Sullivan after the win over Waterford last Sunday.

As for Tipperary, it’s “another massive test against a very good team, but we will go back to training look at what we can improve on and work hard during the week”.

Scoring five goals was also very satisfactory. “It was but we seemed to switch off after we appeared to have the match won and then conceded 1-3 in the last few; that’s an area that would concern us, but it’s the first game of the season and that is something that we will working on.”

Overall though it was a welcome victory and having lost on the last two outings to Liam Cahill’s men, it was nice to stop that sequence.

One of the most impressive aspects was the work rate from everyone in all areas of the field, particularly Shane Barrett whose tenacity earned a couple of 65s and he also clipped over a nice point in the first half. Niall O’Leary and Sean O’Donoghue impressed in defence as did Tim O’Mahoney whose distribution was top class and he pointed with confidence. In attack Robbie O’Flynn took his goal well and the introduction of Shane Kingston and Alan Connolly proved very effective as they both took their goals expertly and ultimately they decided the outcome.

Tipperary looked good for most of their clash with Limerick but the introduction of a couple of key players by John Kiely turned the game around and eventually they shared the spoils.

Liam Sheehy’s side are without a few big players through injury with Bryan O’Meara being the latest. A worry for Tipperary is their tally of just six points from play.

With the possibility of there not being a final, how the league will pan out will be interesting especially now that the Munster Championship dates are known and management teams will obviously use the games to define a game plan and give panel members the opportunity to stake a claim.

What 15 Cork start will be interesting, a few of the injured might be available possibly Colm Spillane, Declan Dalton and Bill Cooper.

Damien Cahalane, Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Patrick Horgan should all feature.

Both sides will look for another good performance, and a consistent 70 minutes will be required for the points to be gained - Cork to shade it. Cork face Tipp in Thurles at 7.30pm on Saturday.

Camogie

Cork v Tippeary

It will be a somewhat new and youthful Cork side that will open their campaign in Division 1 at Páirc Uí Chaoimh with a 2pm start, but at least they are playing and manager Paudie Murray is glad the issues around the league are resolved.

“Delighted that it’s finally over but it should never have come to this. The people who derived the initial fixture list brought unwanted publicity on the game, when we should have been focussing on the positives.”

Paudie says for this year the split season was the way to go: “look we are still operating under restrictions and with limited time it made sense follow the GAA and Ladies Football it was what the players wanted and that should have been accepted by HQ”.

As for Saturday’s opener, “we are in a period of transition with a lot of young players who we hope will make an impact even though it’s a tight run in to the championship. Tipperary are a good side and will test us, we had a run out against Limerick and have trained well so we are looking forward to the game.”

There are no injuries to report and with Chloe Sigerson, Laura Treacy, Catriona Mackey, Linda Collins and Ashling Thompson with plenty of experience they should make a winning start.

The Division 2 game is also a 2pm start in Drom-Inch and with both sides not having played since last March, last season’s Intermediate Championship was cancelled owing to the pandemic, hard to know how the players will respond to a first competitive outing in 12 months.

Lot of good players on the Cork side and Manager Mark McCarthy will hope that the likes of Lauren Callanan, Hayley Ryan, Katie Walsh, Ali Smith, Katie Wall and Clodagh Finn can get them over the line.

Best of luck to all Cork teams and how good it is to have the games back on!

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