Tim O’Mahony, right, celebrates with Darragh Fitzgibbon after scoring their side’s third goal against Tipp in Thurles last Sunday. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Cork ladies face Kerry in Munster Final clash

For what seems like the first time this season neither Cork senior hurlers and footballers are in action this weekend, but both have hopefully a bit to go yet.

The attention this weekend switches to the Cork Camogie and Ladies Football teams who have big championship games on Saturday - yes once again there’s a fixture clash as both are in action on the same day.

Killarney is the venue for Cork v Kerry in the Munster Ladies Football Final at 12.15pm, while in camogie it’s Cork v Clare at 5pm at Páirc Uí Rinn. This will present another dilemma for dual players Meabh Cahalane and Libby Coppinger.

I understand efforts were made to avoid this clash, the camogie game was the one that required an alteration as it was long flagged that the Ladies Football game was to act as a curtain-raiser to the Munster Football Final.

Much has been made in recent months of the possible integration of both camogie and Ladies Football with the GAA, and while its possibility has been welcomed by all parties, it would appear it is still a long way off.

While not fully aware of the facts, if camogie and Ladies Football cannot arrange for this sort of fixture clash to be avoided, how are they going to work when hurling and football fixtures are factored in, with venues and facilities come into the equation?

I accept great progress has been made, but cases like the one on Saturday keep cropping up, and must be terribly frustrating for players and management alike.

It is also very unfair on Meabh and Libby whose desire and commitment to both teams is admirable. I’m sure respective managers Shane and Matthew will have plenty to ponder before they select teams.

Now let’s focus on the matches.

Munster Ladies Football Final

Cork v Kerry on Saturday in Killarney at 12.15pm

Both had comfortable wins in their semi-finals, although Cork’s test against Waterford was tougher then Kerry’s victory over Tipperary.

Following their win Cork manager Shane Roynane said he was “delighted with the win but work to be done before the final, it was our first competitive game since we played Waterford in the league, we trained very hard and glad to get over the line.”

Fitness will be a factor in the weeks ahead: “When the Munster Championship is over, it’ straight into the group stages of the All-Ireland so it was a case of getting the heavy work done as games will then take priority.”

Goals were key in the semi-final win; Aine Terry O’Sullivan with two, Melissa Duggan and Eimear Scally the scorers the latter not long after been introduced as a sub.

Cork also had impressive performers in Orla Finn, Marie O’Callaghan, Ciara and Doireann O’Sullivan while Roisin Phelan and Katie Quirke made important contributions.

Equally Kerry eased to victory over Tipperary and with a large home following expected in Killarney they will be determined to put one over on their near neighbours.

Ciara Butler, Ciara O’Brien, Emma Costello, Cait Lynch, Anna Galvin, Niamh Carmody and Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh will lead the Kerry challenge who have a Cork connection in their side with right half-back Aishling O’Connell who plays her club football with Eire Og.

Cork have had the measure of the Kerry ladies in their recent meetings and I expect them to maintain that trend in this game and send them into the All-Ireland series as Munster champions.

All-Ireland Camogie Championship

Cork v Clare on Saturday at Páirc Uí Rinn at 5pm

A fortnight after producing one of the games of the season which lasted over 90 plus minutes, these sides once again go head to head in Round 2 of the Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Championship, and if it’s half as good as the last meeting, well few will complain.

There were mixed results in their opening games, Cork were comfortable winners over Wexford while Clare played out an exciting draw with Tipperary.

The one factor that might hinder Clare is that this will be their fifth week in a row in competitive action. That might just drain their resources, of course they have lost just once in that period and that will send them into this encounter in confident mood.

They will also take encouragement from their last visit to Páirc Uí Rinn where they really tested Cork and were somewhat unlucky not to win that game.

Clare’s style of play that evening was very impressive and the manner in which they worked hard and took some quality scores would indicate that they will have a big say in who emerges from this group and from what I have seen, they will be one of the 3.

Lorna McNamara, Aine O’Loughlin, Zi Yan Spillane, Aoife Keane, Caoimhe Kelly, Claire Hehir and Eimear Kelly are all very good players and will relish another crack at Cork and gain a measure of revenge for their loss in that enthralling Munster Final.

Cork of course will be well aware of the challenge that awaits them and Matthew Twomey acknowledged that after the Munster Final and he was delighted with the win last week.

“It’s never easy coming to Wexford but I pleased with how we played we did make a few errors but we will work on them during the week and look forward to the Clare game, which we know will be tough.”

Amy O’Connor bagged two vital goals against Wexford while Emma Murphy apart from scoring 0-4 from play had a big part in the creation of other scores, and Chloe Sigerson, Orla Cronin, Catriona Mackey all played well.

Laura Tracey made a return from injury while Laura Hayes, Saoirse McCarthy and Meabh Murphy continued to excel in a solid defence.

That defence is much stronger with Cahalane and Coppinger anchoring it and it remains to be seen if they feature especially if they line out in Killarney earlier in the day.

It has the makings of another intriguing encounter but Cork look better equipped and make it two from two in the group.

The Cork Intermediate team open their campaign when they travel to Bellfield Enniscorthy on Saturday at 2pm for a meeting with Wexford - how this was not played as a double-header last Saturday is another one of these baffling decisions!

Wexford won the Division 2 league but that team are now playing in the Senior Championship and Cork with players of the calibre of Lauran Callanan, Kelly Falvey, Niamh O’Leary, Leanne O’Sullivan, Joanne Casey, Lauren Homan and Finola Neville in their side should make a winning start to their campaign.

Munster Minor Football Final

Cork v Kerry on Wednesday 1 June at Páirc Uí Rinn at 7.30pm

The most unusual format in any championship sees these age old rivals meeting again a little over 3 weeks since Kerry hammered Cork in Tralee by 1-16 to 0-5 to send the Kingdom into the final.

Cork to their credit were much improved in their semi-final as they hammered Tipperary and in the process racked up 3-20 a far cry from their measly tally in Tralee.

The difference was immense - they moved the ball quicker and were more direct in their play. They did have a few problems but got through the game in comfort and will give them confidence ahead of this rematch.

Manager Michael O’Brien was always confident that they were a much better team and was thrilled with how they responded. “Very pleasing, we spoke about it (Tralee) and worked on where we felt we let ourselves down and I knew the lads would respond because they have been an excellent group since we started.”

Cork made a few simple errors the first day and were punished. Kerry grew in confidence while the opposite seem to happen the Cork lads.

Kerry will start as favourites and defensively Cork will need to be more vigilant on Jack Clifford, Cormac Dillon and Paddy Dillon if they are to retain their crown.

Olan O’Donovan, Darragh O’Donovan, Brian Hayes, Ed Myers, Josh Woods, Alan O’Connell, Colin Molloy and Gearoid Kearney all impressed in the emphatic win over Tipperary and if they can raise it another notch or two they might just spring a surprise.

The bonus though is that the winners and runners-up progress to the All-Ireland QF’s and the last time that happened Cork ended up as All-Ireland champions.

Senior men still with a lot to play for

The old adage is ‘a week is a long time in sport’. Well in Cork’s case how apt is that, beaten and looking down and out after the Clare game Kieran Kingston’s men claim third spot and in all probability a place in the QF as they should be to good for Kerry or Antrim when they meet in a few weeks time, in either Belfast or Tralee.

The transformation has been immense and they can face the remainder of the season in confident mood, and maybe just maybe the ‘scenic’ route might work to their advantage.

For the footballers it’s Louth in Round 1 of the qualifiers and with the game being played, hopefully, in Páirc Uí Chaoimh it has to be said that is a very favourable draw.

Okay Mickey Harte is a wily campaigner and will have his team well organized and boosted by a good league campaign, but they were well beaten by Kildare.

However if Cork are to be seen to making progress this is a game they must win, and who knows what the next draw will throw up? That pits the 4 qualifiers against the 4 beaten provincial finalists, which could and probably will include Limerick and Kildare, so you never know, but first things first and that’s Louth, get the job done.

The summer is still very much alive.