Cork and Mayo renew rivalry
For the first time since 2017, it’s Cork v Mayo in the TG4 Ladies Football Championship this weekend, while the events surrounding the Cork hurling team dominated proceedings in a dramatic 24 hours and it was a good weekend for Cork camogie as both teams reach their respective All-Ireland semi-finals.
TG4 All-Ireland Quarter Final
Cork v Mayo at Cusack Park in Ennis on Saturday at 3pm
“It’s where we want to be at this time of the year, sun shining here and we are really looking forward to Saturday,” said Cork coach Shane Roynane on the quarter-final (QF) clash with Mayo.
“The late Eamonn Ryan was always wary of QFs. It’s the first knockout game of the championship and you are a bit vulnerable, but we have prepared well since the Waterford game and happy where we are.”
As for the game, Shane was very happy with the 2nd half in which they held Waterford scoreless: “Yeah it was a difficult day with a funny wind but we knuckled down after our half-time chat and get the job done. Waterford set up very defensively but we wore them down and happy to top the group.”
Topping the group has its advantages: “You play a runner-up from another group, and with Mayo having lost their last game, they are coming in on the back of a loss, whereas our win has given us momentum.” Of course with Dublin and Meath on the opposite side of the draw and likely to meet in a semi-final, the path to ultimate glory for now though is that bit easier.
Shane knows though that Mayo should not and will not be underestimated. “Certainly not and over the last few days I have looked at some of their recent games and know exactly how they play and we have worked on how to counteract that in training over the last few days.”
They still have quality players in Fiona McHale, Sinead and Lisa Cafferkey, Shauna Howley, Kathtryn Sullivan, Aisling Tarpey, Ciara Hyland and Rachel Kearns while they have, like most teams, also lost players to the AWFL and that has hit the depth of their panel. Speaking of panels, Shane is very pleased at the strength now in the squad boosted further by the return of Hannah Looney: “Hannah played in a game we had on Sunday and looked in good shape even after playing with the camogie team on Saturday, while others have made picking the team that bit harder or every game.”
However like Brian Cody, Shane would not have it any other way. “We have made changes for most games and that has seen players put their hand up for selection and that’s a healthy situation to be in and thankfully we are injury-free.”
Cork dug out two good wins over Donegal and Waterford and while they have yet to hit a consistent 60 minutes, it’s all about winning and building for the tougher games ahead.
Meabh O’Sullivan would appear to have nailed down the number 1 jersey, while Roisin Phelan, Maire O’Callaghan, Laura O’Mahony and Melissa Duggan anchor a solid and dependable defensive unit.
In midfield, Shauna Kelly and Brid O’Sullivan give them an edge on most teams and in the process supply quality ball to an attack that have the capacity to unhinge any defence.
Doireann O’Sullivan, Orla Finn, Ciara O’Sullivan and Libby Coppinger are real creators and scorers on any given day.
The coach is confident that they can win: “We are looking forward to it, and confident if we produce a good 60 minutes we will make to the semi-final.”
That semi-final is a week later on 16 Saturday in Croke Park against Kerry or Armagh, Cork are good enough to make to the last four and probably will.
All of Sunday’s action centred on the hurling games in Nowlan Park and Croke Park until at 6pm news emerged that Kieran Kingston had stepped down as Cork Senior Hurling Manager.
The ink on that story had barely been dry when the County Board executive announced that Sarsfields Pat Ryan was to take over with a 3 year term, formally ratified at Tuesday’s Board meeting.
Ryan was a frontrunner from the off and comes into the job with an impressive CV.
A Munster and All-Ireland winner in 1999, he has coached extensively since retirement, guiding Sars to county titles in 2012 and 2014, while he was also part of Kieran Kingston’s backroom team so that experience of senior inter-county action will help.
Of course in 2020 and 2021 he was at the helm as Cork won back to back Munster and All-Ireland Under 20 titles playing an attractive style in the process.
It’s fair to say that the majority of those players will anchor the senior team for the next few years and along with the experienced players who hopefully will stick with it and give the incoming management team plenty to work with when they do get together.
The full management team will be announced in the coming weeks, but it’s a possibility that some of those that worked with Pat at under 20 level might just keep their phones on for the next few days.
Best to luck to all involved as they bid to finally end Cork’s wait for the much sought after Liam McCarthy Cup. To Kieran Kingston we say thank you for your hard work over many years with Cork as a player and manager, the holy grail evaded you like it has so many others but in all those years you gave it your all. On a personal level my thanks for your help and co-operation at all times, win or lose you always made yourself available which was really appreciated. No doubt hurling will always be part of your DNA you can relax and enjoy been a supporter, best of luck for the future and as they say ‘see you at a game’.
A good Saturday afternoon in Páirc Uí Rinn for the most part anyway, as the Cork Intermediate team joined their senior counterparts in the semi-finals of their respective Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Championship.
Even though they lost narrowly to Tipperary, the seniors were already into the last four but the loss of Ashling Thompson to a straight red-card and the decision of Orla Cronin to opt out of the panel will test the management resources ahead of the semi-final which will be played in Croke Park on 23 July and if quarter-final results go to form, it’s likely that Kilkenny will provide the opposition.
The Intermediate team’s big win over Kildare got them top spot over Derry and will watch next Saturday’s quarter-finals with interest keeping an eye of prospective semi-final opponents. The pairings are Derry v Dublin and Kerry v Meath in O’Moore Park, Portlaoise and no doubt the selectors will be in attendance.
The semi-finals are fixed for the very same day as the seniors and this will present an unfortunate clash of fixtures for both Cork and Galway who are semi-finalists in both grades.
With the start of the county football championships getting ever nearer - it all gets underway on the weekend of 22/24 - the clubs that have reached the play-off phase of the leagues will have ideal preparation this weekend when most of the inter-county players will be available for selection, injury apart. One such player is the ‘Barr’s Steven Sherlock who has had minor surgery on his knee that will see him sit out this game but will be fit for the championship opener.
The game in question is the Division 1 semi-final against Cill Na Martra in Togher on Sunday at 12pm, but they will still be expected to reach the final.
Nemo Rangers and Eire Og meet in the second semi-final in Trabeg at 2pm and the odds favour the’ southside neighbours meeting in the decider.
In Division 2 it’s Aghada v Rockchapel at 1pm in Rostellan with Dohenys enjoying home advantage against Kanturk at 3pm, with both games on Sunday. Kanturk have also reached the hurling semi-finals which will make for a busy period for their dual players, something though they are well used to.