The Dubs are back in town!
For the first time since 2012 Dublin footballers arrive on Leeside for a vital league game on Sunday, while the camogie and Ladies Football teams are in action as well, while UCC are on the hunt for another Fitzgibbon Cup title.
Allianz NFL Division 2
Cork v Dublin on Sunday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 3.45pm
It’s hard to believe it is 2012 since Dublin last played in Cork, a Division 1 League game in which Cork won 1-12 to 0-12 in Páirc Uí Rinn.
The principal reason for that of course is Cork have been in Division 2 and spent a year in Division 3, while Dublin up until this year have been resident in the top division.
They have met since then mostly in Croke Park with Dublin the dominant team, and it is also the first time that the Dubs will play in the revamped Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
As everyone predicted, this division is going to be ultra competitive and with more than promotion at stake, every point is going to be vital.
Unaccustomed as they are to playing in this division, Dublin have made the perfect start with two wins, narrowly against Kildare in the opening round and comfortably enough over Limerick.
Cork bounced back from the loss to Meath with a comprehensive win over Kildare in Newbridge, the same team that Dublin only beat by 1 point in Croke Park. Can we read anything into that - unlikely.
In the aftermath of the win over Kildare, John Cleary was pleased but not getting carried away.
“Look we were very disappointed at the Meath game, but when we looked back at it, we felt we didn’t do a whole lot wrong, obviously conceding 3 goals was one of them and we worked on correcting that for today, which we did.”
“Our approach has always been there are 7 games to play - all tough - and we quickly parked the Meath loss and focussed on today, and we will do exactly the same, this (Kildare) game is over, we have 2 points; next up is Dublin.”
John is eagerly looking forward to this game. “Of course they have been the standard bearers for the last number of years and we will know where we stand after this game, but we’re coming in off the back of a win and that will give us confidence.”
The first goal in Newbridge was scored by Sean Powter and the Douglas player was delighted with the win. “We were very annoyed with ourselves after last Sunday (Meath game) particularly the goals we conceded and we were determined to rectify that today and we did.”
Like his manager, Sean can’t wait for the visit of Dublin: “Great game to be playing in and should have a nice atmosphere, but that’s secondary for us, it’s about going out and giving our best to try and win the two points that are on offer.”
The one plus side for the management is that they have had two weeks to prepare, and apart from UCC, the Sigerson Cup commitments have eased somewhat, although UCC were playing in the final and hopefully winning it last night (Wednesday).
Cork were much better defensively in Newbridge, it was not until deep in injury time that goalkeeper Micheál Aodh Martin was called upon to make a save, and while Dublin will pose a much bigger threat, if they’re as efficient again it will be a huge help.
Ian Maguire and Com O’Callaghan worked hard all through and made excellent use of possession with good quick ball into the attack.
Steven Sherlock, Brian Hurley, Powter and Brian O’Driscoll all made important scoring contributions as did Cathal O’Mahoney although his tendency to shoot on sight, can at times ignore players in better positions, but it is something that I’m sure can be rectified.
Dublin are still backboned by quality players like Dean Rock, Ciaran Kilkenny, Brian Fenton, Lorcan O’Dell and Con O’Callaghan even if they are in a slight transitional period of their re-development.
The visitors will start as favourites and while they are not the force they once were, they have been operating at a higher level then Cork for a number of seasons now and that gives them a decided edge.
Had Cork lost to Kildare this would really be a must-win game, but they will be very keen to win and maintain the momentum gained from that game, they are capable of winning the odds favour Dublin.
The match is live on C103.
Very National Camogie League Division 1
Cork v Dublin on Saturday at MTU at 2pm
It’s the start of another campaign as Matthew Twomey, with a few changes to his backroom team, begins his 2nd season at the helm, and he will hoping for a good league in preparation for the championship, which incidentally the draws have not yet been made for.
It’s a much changed season fixtures wise; the top 2 will contest the league finals as semi-finals have been dispensed with, while the Munster Championship, which is separate to the All-Ireland Championship will be played on a round-robin basis.
All of this of course will mean extra games and the ideal opportunity for the management team to test the depth of the panel in plenty of time for the business end of the season which they are generally involved in.
Orla Cronin and Pamela Mackey are back this year, Meabh Cahalane is concentrating on camogie only, but Ashling Thompson is still working her way back to fitness after her knee injury.
There is still quality in the squad with Amy Lee, Laura Hayes, Saoirse McCarthy, Emma Murphy, Amy O’Connor and Laura Treacy, enough to suggest they should make a winning start on Saturday.
It’s a 6 team Division 1A, with Kilkenny, Clare, Tipperary and Galway joining Cork and Dublin.
Lidl National Football League Division 1
Cork v Galway on Sunday in Tuam at 2pm
Having lost a cracking contest to Dublin by 1 point last time out, this really is a must-win game for Shane Roynane’s side and with just the top two making the final, Cork cannot afford to drop any more points.
As it stands, the odds are stacked against them as they must yet play the All-Ireland champions Meath and unbeaten Kerry.
This is a very young and somewhat new Cork team and for long periods, they played well in the Dublin game and maybe a lack of experience in a few positions probably cost them, but that will come.
Libby Coppinger, Erika O’Shea, Hannah Looney, Katie Quirke, Daire Kiely and Rachel Leahy all impressed in that game, and will look to do so again.
Galway are a couple of points ahead of Cork in the league and home advantage could a factor as will the possibility of Libby and Hannah playing with the camogie team on Saturday, but a consistent 60 minutes and a tightening up in defence might get them over the line.
The possibility of playing 2 games in the space of 3 days is the prospect facing the 4 semi-finalist in this most fabled of competitions but it’s a something they would like to do, such is the importance attached to the Fitz.
Of course not so long ago, it was semi-finals on Friday with the final on Saturday so it’s a situation they are well used to.
Despite a litany of injuries that have robbed them of key players, UCC will travel to Doora-Barefield tonight (Thursday) for their 6.15pm clash with NUIG.
They have not been at their best in some of the games but they have dug out wins when they looked like going against them, a good trait to have in any team.
There is a lot of experienced players in their side among them Niall O’Leary, Conor Cahalane, Shane Barrett, Robbie Cotter, Brian Hayes and Darragh Flynn who bagged 0-14 in their quarter-final win over ATU Galway last week.
NUIG had a number of players with Galway in Salthill last Sunday and they will be difficult to beat, but you feel that if UCC can apply themselves fully for the hour they should progress to Saturday’s final in Waterford against either UL or SETU Waterford.