Footballers are in control of their own destiny
“Now we’re back in with a chance of gaining promotion. We want to get to the top division and the players responded as I hoped they would.”
Those were the words of Cork football manager Ronan McCarthy after the win over Laois last Saturday.
Ronan made a point of referencing a number of players.
He said: “I thought our big players showed leadership, Ian (Maguire), Ruairi (Deane), Ciaran (Sheehan) were excellent and some of these lads have only limited training, similarly with Luke (Connolly) he was pressed into action and delivered big time.”
Ronan also had words of praise for the younger members of the squad signalling out Daniel O’Mahoney.
He added: “I thought he did a great job, was composed and confident at all times, delighted with him.”
It was a much-improved display, even if Laois were poor but coming off the back of a defeat it’s never easy especially away from home.
It sets it up nicely for Sunday’s trip to Ennis, a ground where Cork football don’t have happy memories of visiting, in fact we have lost on our past three trips there.
Clare are in a much better position than Cork, unbeaten after their two games and top of the table.
They are, barring a strange set of results, almost guaranteed to advance to the semi-final giving them a shot at promotion to Division 1 which a short few years ago wouldn’t have looked likely.
However, under Colm Collins they have developed into a formidable outfit and difficult to beat at home or away.
They haven’t enjoyed the best of luck in the championship, invariably been paired with Kerry in the draw, as they have been again this year in a quarter-final.
That though is for another day, the focus now is on Sunday.
Cork need to win, by my reckoning, by four points to ensure they make the semi-final play-off. That’s assuming Kildare, as they should, beat Laois.
In beating Kildare last week in Newbridge Clare showed what they are capable of and in Eoin Cleary. who he hit 0-7 last week, David Tubridy, Joe Mc Gann, Keelan Sexton, Eoghan Collins, Stephen Ryan and Pearse Lillis, they have quality players in confident form and will not fear Cork, especially on their home patch.
Cork mixed the good with the bad last week, the second half was poor.
They never looked like losing but they showed what they are capable of with quick movement that yielded two very good goals, well taken by Deane and Sean White.
At other times the build up was slow and laboured although a point just before half-time was a result of patient and controlled play, which will be needed as Clare tend to play with numbers behind the ball making them hard to break down.
Cork’s key players, as Ronan pointed out, delivered big time last week and will need to do so again to keep their league ambitions alive.
Miceal Aodh Martin was comfortable in goal. He made a vital save in the second half.
Sean Powter drove hard as he always does while Kevin O’Donovan impressed at half-back.
It’s going to be a real test for Cork, but they will have gained in confidence from the win last week and while it will not be easy they can win if they produce a consistent and sustained 70 minutes.
Irrespective of events in Portlaoise they could secure their place in the Division 2 semi-final and with it a shot at promotion to the top tier.
Cork v Clare in the Allianz NFL Division 2 South is at 1.45pm on Sunday in Cusack Park.
The game will be live on C103.
Cork v Dublin
A repeat of last December’s All-Ireland Final and both sides coming in on the back of impressive wins in their opening games, and the expectation is that these sides will advance to the last four with the outcome of this match determining the top two places.
Cork as you would expect were sluggish in the first-half last Friday but the changes made at the break made for a much more productive second period and the winning margin reflected that.
In fact it could have been much more with a bit more composure in front of goal.
Manager Ephie Fitzgerald was unconcerned as it was their first game:
“Happy enough, our fitness levels are very good and while we have a few injuries I thought we moved the ball well and better in the second half.
“Dublin will be another test and we are looking forward to it, especially as it’s in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.”
Martina O’Brien, Erica O’Shea, Orla Finn, Ciara O’Sullivan, Sadhbh O’Leary, Emma Cleary and Mellisa Duggan all impressed and will relish the challenge the All-Ireland Champions will present on Saturday night.
Dublin had the easiest of wins over Waterford scoring 6-15 in the process, laying down a marker that they still mean business in the early part of the season.
They look to have strengthened their squad with the addition of former rugby star Hannah Tyrell, scoring 1-5.
Sinead Aherne, Orlagh Nolan, Lyndsey Davey and Caoimhe O’Connor are all quality players too.
The champions are probably further down the road in their development and while Cork give it their best shot, Dublin look that bit better right now and could collect the points.
That might unduly disappoint Ephie.
How they perform might be of more importance in the greater scheme of things.
Cork v Dublin play in the Lidl Ladies Football National League on Friday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 7.35pm.
Camogie teams on the road
Both Cork camogie teams have secured their places in the Littlewoods National League.
Both hit the road on Saturday in the final games in their respective groups.
Walsh Park is the venue for Division 1 clash at 2pm and with Waterford having lost to Tipperary last weekend they need a win to keep their hopes alive.
Cork are into the quarter-final and a win here will probably see them make it to the semi-final.
Paudie Murray might use this outing to get game time into some of his younger players on the panel in the expectation that the dual players will probably feature with the footballers later in the evening.
There is depth in the squad and whatever 15 is selected they should be strong enough to win.
In Division 2, Cork make the long trip to Gort with a 1.30pm start.
It’s a must win game for the hosts Galway, who surprisingly lost to Kerry in the first round but got the better of Tipperary last week.
Cork were easy winners over Kerry who if they beat Tipperary and Cork win in Gort, the Kingdom girls will make the play-offs which would be a fair achievement given the limited number of clubs in the county.
Even though they have qualified Cork will want to maintain their winning run.
There’s a nice mix in the Cork team with Katie Walsh, Hayley Ryan, Ali Smith, Stephanie Beausang, Finola Neville and Niamh O’Leary.
Even with the long trip that they have, they should be good enough to end the group phase on a winning note.
Last week it was four from four for Cork teams, lets hope for the same again.