Hurlers revive their season
“A very important win for Cork hurling and equally for this group of players.”
The words of Kieran Kingston in the immediate aftermath of the dramatic win over Clare and it sets up a quarter-final with Dublin in Thurles on Saturday with a 7pm start and it’s live on C103.
Kieran was also delighted with the displays given by the younger members of the panel and the impact they made. “We now have a very young squad, I think late on in the game Patrick (Horgan) was the oldest player on the field, which is a good sign going forward.”
As for the next round, the plan was simple: “We will enjoy this win, get a recovery session into the lads in the morning (Sunday) and then see what Monday’s draw will bring, but whoever it is, we will be ready as there’s a lot at stake now at the business end of the Championship.”
Of course we now know what the draw produced and that is what we all wanted on the basis that Cork could win. That might well be the case but players and management will not be taking anything for granted, and even with the short turnaround, the preparation will be thorough.
Remember this Dublin team beat Galway in the Leinster semi-final - a Galway team that were comfortable winners over Cork in the league.
They were hit by Covid issues a short few hours before the final loss to Kilkenny and that did not help their cause. That was all of three weeks ago, so provided these have cleared they will be ready to try and advance to a first All-Ireland semi-final since losing to Cork in 2013.
Dublin’s win over Galway was well deserved and Mattie Kenny is a shrewd coach and will relish this opportunity knowing full well they will be underdogs and the ideal way to go into this game.
Kenny has good players in his squad, and they are also a big physical team who will endeavour to impose themselves on Cork from the off.
For the Leinster final, they lost Cian O’Callaghan and Ronan Hayes from the starting 15, while Fergal Whitely and Oisin O’Rourke were unable to take their places on the bench, and that’s a lot of good players to be without.
Assuming O’Callaghan and Hayes return, they will join Alan Nolan, Liam Rushe and Riain McBride, Danny Sutcliffe, Chris Crummy and Mark Schutte in a balanced and committed Dublin side who will not fear Cork.
Cork were very impressive in seeing off Clare and could have won by more had they taken their goal chances but what I liked about their play is their willingness to go for goals, especially Jack O’Connor.
Shane Barrett took his goal brilliantly while Shane Kingston’s persistence paid off for his goal after a lovely flick from Patrick Horgan, whose point off his knees was just class. Seamus Harnedy made a big contribution in terms of scoring and creating but will be annoyed at his wides tally.
The real heroes were in defence who to a man stuck to their tasks and what a save by Patrick Collins to keep us in the Championship!
Losing two experienced players like Damien Cahalane and Eoin Cadogan was unsettling so late in the week, but the response was exactly what was required. All six defenders excelled; O’Donoghue, Downey, O’Leary, O’Mahoney, Coleman and Mellerick rarely put a foot wrong and Downey’s blockdown was a game changer.
Luke Meade worked tirelessly in midfield and had a hand in 1-4 while clipping over a lovely point. Darragh Fitzgibbon bagged two points, but by his own high standards he was quiet, a lot more to come from this player would be a huge bonus.
Up front, the work rate was top class and with a better return from this unit essentially was the deciding factor, while the introduction of Shane Barrett and Alan Connolly was also crucial.
One or both might actually start on Saturday.
It’s a repeat of last year’s qualifier match-up and while Cork never looked like losing that, they were given a stiff test by a resilient outfit.
Cork will be favourites but expect another tough 70 minutes. You would feel there is now a confidence in the squad and enough quality to get the better of Dublin and advance to the semi-final.
The other quarter-final is in Páirc Uí Chaoimh between Waterford and Tipperary and given how they won last week, and even without the suspended Conor Gleeson, Liam Cahill’s Deise men look well capable of winning.
Cork v Offaly
As expected, Cork beat Tipperary to collect their second Munster Under 20 title in three years, tempered somewhat when news broke on Saturday ace forward Conor Corbett’s season is over owing to a cruciate knee injury and he is a huge loss.
The timing of this game against Offally - 5.15pm in Portlaoise is not ideal - but with a limited crowd of 500, it really does not have that effect on the attendance. Offaly impressed in their win over a highly-rated Dublin and will certainly be buoyed by the manner of that victory, and will fancy their chances of causing what would be seen as another upset, and with Jack Byrant, Cathal Flynn, Morgan Tynan and the lively Cormac Egan, they certainly will travel the short distance in confident mood.
Boss Keith Ricken was concerned at the concession of three somewhat soft goals and will have worked on that since the win over what was a limited Tipperary side.
With Diarmuid Phelan, Brian Hayes, Colm O’Donovan, Jack Cahalane, David Buckley, Colin Walsh and Niall Hartnett and even without the talented Corbett, Cork look better equipped to win.
Old rivals renew rivalry
With two of the three Munster football titles decided, the score stands at Cork 1 Kerry 1, and the expectation is that the winner of Friday’s minor semi-final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 7.30pm will ultimately go on to win the decider, and give their respective county an overall 2-1 win.
Cork had a facile win over Waterford last week and learned very little, and the only real advantage is the management team got championship minutes into their players and that will help in terms of what is certain to be a much tougher test, in a grade the Kingdom have dominated in recent years.
There was a nice look to the Cork team. Jamie O’Driscoll bagged a hat-trick of goals, Hugh O’Connor and Ross Corkery clipped over some neat points, while Mikey O’Connell, Conor Twomey, Sam Copps and Rory O’Shaughnessy all impressed even allowing for the paucity of the Waterford challenge.
Kerry are always good at this level and even though it will be their first outing, their challenge will be a strong one and determined to lay down a marker for the years ahead, but Cork are well capable of winning.
Camogie and Ladies Football
It’s a busy weekend for both codes where Waterford are the opposition in both Senior Championship games.
First up it’s the Round 3 Camogie game in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday at 5pm - a repeat of a league clash a short few weeks ago which Cork won comfortably.
Cork are two from two and with Laura Treacy, Amy O’Connor, Linda Collins and Catriona Mackey keen to maintain their winning ways, it should be three from three at the end of this contest and in the process ensure top the group and comfortably progress to the knockout phase of the Championship.
Then on Sunday at 3.30pm at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, the counties meet in the quarter-final of the TG4 All-Ireland Senior Championship, and like the camogie teams, the sides met in the Fraher Field in a league encounter recently and Cork ran out winners, but not without their difficulties on the day.
Since then Cork have a number of key players back from injury and are gaining momentum as the business end of the Championship appears on the horizon.
Martina O’Brien, Erika O’Shea, Mellissa Duggan, Ciara O’Sullivan, Hannah Looney and Sabdh O’Leary have enough quality and class to see Ephie Fitzgerald’s side advance to the last four.
In the Intermediate Camogie Championship, at Castle Road on Saturday at 2pm it’s Cork v Antrim. Both sides won their opening games last weekend and the winners here will take a firm grip on the group, home advantage and the contributions of Katie Walsh, Aoife Hurley, Kate Wall, Rachel O’Shea and Lauren Callanan might just give Cork the edge and with it the points.
Cork are enjoying a good run at underage level in camogie and will hope to maintain this over the weekend with three games, two of them finals.
First up is the All-Ireland Minor A Championship v Clare in Castle Road on Sunday at 2pm, while on Monday in Dungarvan, it’s an U16 double-header of Munster Finals. At 12pm, it’s Cork v Tipperary in the B grade followed at 3pm by the A final between the same counties.
2020 county finals
The second of the deferred deciders goes ahead in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday night at 7pm and it’s a Duhallow local derby in the Premier Intermediate Football between Knocknagree and Kanturk and it has the makings of a cracking contest.
There are class players on both sides: Aidan and Paul Walsh, Lorcan McLoughlin, Lorcan O’Neill, Cian Clernon and Kyrle Holland are among the key players for Kanturk while Eoghan McSweeney, Fintan O’Connor, Patrick Doyle, John Fintan Daly and Denis O’Connor anchor the Knocknagree challenge. It’s impossible to predict a winner especially with the long layoff being a factor, so we’ll take a punt on Knocknagree.
There are six football league finals down for decision at the time of writing all scheduled for Sunday.
In D1, St Finbarr’s v Clonakilty, D2 Castlehaven v Newmarket, D3 Newcestown v Carrigaline,
D4 Bandon v Naomh Aban, D6 Kilshannig v Na Piarsaigh, D7 Glanmire v Castletownbere, while in the County Junior A Football Championship Iveleary meet Kilmacabea in Dunmanway at 2pm.