Séamus Harnedy shooting while Jamie Barron of Waterford tries to block him down the Munster Senior Championship match at Walsh Park in Waterford. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Old rivals Tipp stand in way of hurlers’ progress

How quickly things change! This time last week we were contemplating the end of Cork’s hurling season, now they are in pole position to progress, while it’s Waterford whose year is slipping through their fingers.

Elsewhere the Cork minor footballers face a must-win game against Tipperary while the camogie team begin their quest for an All-Ireland title.

Munster Minor Football semi-final

Cork v Tipperary in Thurles at 7pm tonight (Thursday)

“I can’t really explain it. We trained and prepared well and had some very good challenge games but tonight we were well off the pace,” said Cork minor football manager Michael O’Brien after the heavy defeat to Kerry last week.

It was a performance that to say the least was very poor; 5 points - none from play, 5 wides and just one shot that troubled the Kerry goalkeeper; at this level that’s not good enough.

Michael was of the same opinion, but at least it was not knockout: “Well we have a chance to show we are better than that, we will review this game get back to training and then give the next game our best shot.”

How much of a factor was it that this was Cork’s first outing? Michael was making no excuses: “It was the very same for Kerry but it didn’t seem to affect them, but as I said before the system is a bit lopsided, we now play Tipperary and it’s their fifth game against our second but we just have to get on with it.”

Tipperary emerged comfortably from the group phase racking up some big scores in the process and on the evidence of Cork’s Tralee display they will feel confident of reaching the final.

Tommy O’Connor, Joe Higgins and Paddy O’Keeffe impressed in the recent win over Limerick while Conall Grogan, Eanna Ormond, Charlie King and Ciaran Byrne were others to make an impact in their winning run.

For Cork very few players will look back on the Tralee game with any degree of satisfaction - Olan O’Donovan, Brian Hayes, Darragh O’Donovan, and were the exception.

Cork are surely better then they looked in Tralee, the game will hopefully have brought them on. A huge improvement will be needed if they are to progress, and set up a repeat match with Kerry, if not their season will end.

Munster Senior Hurling Championship

Cork v Tipperary on Sunday in Thurles at 4pm

It was Cork’s first senior hurling championship game in Walsh Park since 1975 and it’s a ground where our record was not great, but all that was put to one side as they produced their best display since beating Kilkenny in the league semi-final, and in the process keep them in control of their destiny.

“It was a great performance but all it does is it keep us in the championship, now we must back that up when we go to Thurles next Sunday,” said manager Kieran Kingston after the game.

What was different about Sunday? Well work rate and attitude were the main reasons, right from the off Cork laid down a marker and let Waterford know they were up for the fight and in the process quietened the large home following.

In fact Kingston made that point as well: “I know there was a small Cork crowd here, but boy were they heard, one of the lads just remarked that it felt like there was 10,000 fans in the ground.”

The crucial period came just before half-time. Having lost a 4 point lead, Cork responded to go in at the break 1 point ahead, but turning to play against the strong wind would it be enough? In fact that was as close as Waterford got and Cork were deserving 6 point winners at the end.

Equally important was the result from Ennis; the draw there means Cork’s fate is in their own hands, win on Sunday and irrespective of the outcome of the Clare v Waterford clash, Cork will progress on the head to head basis.

The reward is third place in the group and a meeting with the runners-up in the Joe McDonagh Cup in a few weeks time.

First things first though, a tricky assignment on Sunday, Tipperary may have lost all 3 games, but they are a proud county, playing at home against their greatest rivals, they will put up some battle.

Equally if they and Clare both win, it will mean a 3 way tie, with scoring difference then coming onto play.

Remember also Tipperary tested Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds where only a late flourish got the champions over the line.

It’s been a tough season for Colm Bonnar and the loss of key players, notably the Mahers and Seamus Callanan have not helped, even in recent games they lost key players with injuries stretching the panel to the limit.

They do have some excellent players: Cathal Barrett, Ronan Maher and Seamus Kennedy in defence while in attack Noel McGrath, Mark Kehoe, Jake Morris and Ger Browne who has picked off some neat scores in the last two games.

How will Cork line up - will Patrick Horgan start? He should in my view and congratulations on becoming the all-time top scorer in the championship, a few more to come to extend that lead.

There is likely to be little change in defence, as to a man they were excellent completely dominating their immediate opponents, even if a few stray passes resulted in scores for Waterford.

Patrick Collins made a couple of great saves, puck outs were top class and even chipped in with a brilliant point, Downey, O’Donoghue and Coleman were solid while Ciaran Joyce enhanced his growing reputation with another outstanding display.

The midfield pairing of Luke Meade and Darragh Fitzgibbon were dominant for long periods and chipped in with lovely points and a repeat will give Cork a vital edge and a platform for the attack to prosper.

Seamus Harnedy rolled back the years with a vintage display, Conor Lehane showed what he is capable of, while once again Alan Connolly’s eye for goal paid dividends.

Robbie O’Flynn worked as he always does and his surging run led to Cork’s first goal, while the introduction of Shane Kingston and Tim O’Mahoney worked a treat, now the dilemma for the management.

Do they keep Kingston and O’Mahoney in reserve or start them - it’s a big and important call?

Cork will probably start as favourites but that will count for very little unless the approach matches that of last Sunday. Tipperary might throw caution to the wind and play with a bit of abandon which will make them dangerous opponents.

The game plan Cork had in Walsh Park was very effective but equally important was the work when they did not have the ball, tight and controlled marking all over the field closing down and limiting the options.

A similar game plan and with the confidence of that win should see Cork get the better of their old rivals, but again it will need a full blooded and committed 70 minutes to ensure the job is done, and what looked unlikely a couple of weeks ago, qualification from the group will be achieved, and that given the losses to Limerick and Clare will be some achievement.

It’s live on C103.

Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Senior Camogie Championship

Cork v Wexford on Saturday in Bellfield at 5pm

Last Saturday’s Munster Final between Cork and Clare was one of the best camogie games I have seen in a long time. It had everything; quality scores from both sides, extra time followed by more extra time, before eventually Cork got over the line.

The points first by Chloe Sigerson and then by Catriona Mackey to force the added time were just superb.

Clare more then played their part and on the evidence of this look well capable of making the knockout stages and their group meeting with Cork in 2 weeks time should be well worth seeing.

In the immediate aftermath Cork manager Matthew Twomey was thrilled with the outcome: “A great win, the girls never gave up and after losing the league final it’s nice to get some reward.”

As regards preparation for Saturday, he said it’s “ideal really. We get a recovery session in and then get back to training, it’s always nice to start a new championship on the back of winning one.”

The depth of the panel also pleased the manager: “That’s a big plus; lot of the girls showed what they are capable off and that will stand to us as a group, giving us options for the games that will come thick and fast now.”

Cork were without Laura Tracey but should be available on Saturday, Orla Cronin made an important and valuable contribution when introduced, while Hannah Looney and Sorcha McCartan should also come into the equation in the coming weeks.

All very positive ahead of their opening game away to Wexford on Saturday, that is a Wexford side that were competing in and won Division 2 of the league, a league in which Cork’s second team reached the semi-final, that would install Cork as firm favourites to make a winning start to the group phase.

There were many stand out players last Saturday, especially Laura Hayes, Saoirse McCarthy, Meabh Murphy, Libby Coppinger and Meabh Cahalane.

Provided the exertions of a 90 minute encounter hasn’t taken its toll anything other than a Cork win would be a major surprise.