2023 Electric Ireland GAA Higher Education Rising Stars Footballer of the Year Daniel O’Mahony of UCC and Knocknagree, at the Castletroy Park Hotel in Limerick. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Championship opener in Clare for footballers

Time was when the Munster Championship would not start until June with a final in July; that’s not the case now as under the new condensed season, it gets underway on Sunday.

There’s a trip to Ennis for John Cleary’s senior footballers, while there are also a couple of camogie game down for decision.

Munster Senior Football Championship QF

Cork v Clare in Cusack Park Ennis on Sunday 2pm

A few weeks ago at the same venue when these two sides met, Cork ran out winners by 8 points and had they taken their goal chances, the margin would have been much greater.

Subsequently Clare were relegated while Cork more or less assured themselves of qualification for the round-robin phase of the Sam Maguire Cup - they are currently ranked 12th of the 16 - but the desire to get to the Munster Final is a strong one.

In the aftermath of the dramatic draw with Derry, coming from 8 points down, Manager John Cleary said the focus now was on Ennis.

“Very much so, we did a lot of good things in the league, and some things not so good; disappointed that we were not in the shake up, but look we will go away now and review and plan for the championship.”

Midfielder Ian Maguire whose late goal secured the draw said the league has been very beneficial: “Every game felt like a championship match with the intensity and the tight schedule but we took a lot from the campaign and now we move on to Ennis.”

Both John and Ian were in agreement that while the win in the league a few weeks ago was welcome, championship is different.

John’s view is that “Clare are always hard to beat in Ennis and while we won there recently, we know they will be better and so will we if we are to win there again”.

Ian said that “we will go there confident we can win, but know that it’s going to be a very tough competitive game as it always is, but we will be ready for that. It is something that we have had on our radar since the start of the year and now it’s on us.”

Clare Manager Colm Collins is now in his 10th year and was naturally very disappointed at being relegated. He knows that to maintain their good championship form of recent years - they were beaten by Derry in the QF last year - they must win on Sunday or else it’s the Tailteann Cup for his side.

The do have a number of injury worries to contend with and for Sunday Cian O’Dea is an absentee and he is a loss, coupled with the retirement early in the year of David Tubridy has robbed them of key players.

Keelan Sexton is a dangerous forward, Stephen Ryan is a quality goalkeeper, Jamie Malone, Ronan Lanigan and Alan Sweeney all impressed during the league, while injury limited Podge Collins’ campaign but if fit, he has the potential to trouble any defence.

Cork have a couple of injury worries themselves including Brian Hurley although the expectation is that he will play, but Maurice Shanley’s hamstring could keep him out.

What 15 will John Cleary and his management team go with, but if their league selections are an indication they will be very little change?

Micheál Aodh Martin will be the goalkeeper and he has been excellent in the league making a number of important saves.

Daniel O’Mahoney is available have missed the Derry game through suspension, while in his absence Kevin O’Donovan was very good even chipping in with a well taken point.

Luke Fahy, Rory Maguire and the attack minded Matty Taylor, who has got some vital goals will all feature.

Ian Maguire and Colm O’Callaghan are nailed on as the midfield pairing and they are well capable of giving Cork a vital edge in this area.

As I mentioned last week, in their 7 league games Cork scored 14 goals but could easily have doubled that, they got 3 in the win in Ennis, a few more on Sunday would welcome.

As a unit Cork can be very dangerous, Sean Powter’s dynamism as centre-forward has been a revelation, Ruairi Deane’s powerful running has been another feature, while Brian Hurley is a class act and very hard to contain.

All 3 are definite starters but who will join them?

Pick the other 3 from Steven Sherlock, Brian O’Driscoll, Conor Corbett, Chris Óg Jones, Eoghan McSweeney and John O’Rourke - an indication that there is plenty of option if things are going wrong.

In reality this is a game that Cork should be winning, even in Ennis, if they are to continue on the upward trajectory of recent months, one or two lapses aside, and if they play to their potential, they should.

They look better balanced and stronger all over the field, but without doubt, Clare always raise their game in the championship especially on home soil and being written off by most will suit them down to the ground.

That aside, Cork to win and set up a semi-final meeting with Limerick in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in a couple of weeks time, as always the match is live on C103.


Having gone through the campaign to date, Cork are already assured of their place in the Very Ireland Division 2 league final ahead of their last group game away to Wexford on Saturday.

It’s a nice position for the management to be in before they face Kilkenny in the decider on Saturday week.

Even though they have been without a few players through injury and travel, they have coped well and the wins over Tipperary, Galway and indeed Kilkenny has shown the depth within the county of players capable of playing at this level.

Niamh O’Leary, Leanne O’Sullivan, Lauren Homan, Rachel Harty and Stephanie Beausang all made important contributions in the games to date and they should end the group phase on a winning note.

Of course on Sunday 16 April, the Division 1A Final Cork v Galway is fixed for Croke Park at the unusual time of 1.50pm.

In the Electric Ireland Minor Championship, Cork having lost to Waterford in Round 2 played out a thrilling draw with Kilkenny in Freshford last Sunday, coming from 4 points down to take the lead, and a rather soft free earned the home side a share of the spoils which was probably a fair result.

It sets Cork up nicely for their next game at home in Castle Road against Tipperary on Sunday at 11.30am.

Tipperary have been very impressive in their games to date and had a good win away to Galway last week and will fancy their chances against this Cork side.

Cork though are the All-Ireland champions and with the likes of Millie Condon, Grainne Finn, Erin Curtin, Laura Dunlea and Emer Duignan all showing good form, they might just get the win that would keep them in contention as they bid to retain their title.

Minor hurlers

Two wins from their two games so far have put Kieran Murphy’s side in a good position to progress to the knockout phase of the Electric Ireland Minor championship with a trip to play Clare in Sixmilebridge on 18 April.

The win over Tipperary was much different to their first outing as after building up a comfortable lead, they then hit a rocky patch and the gap was cut just 2 points.

Crucially despite their young age, they did not panic. stuck to the game plan and in the end were worthy winners by 8 points.

A number of players have impressed including Oier O’Callaghan and Ben Walsh in defence, Conor McCarthy in midfield while Barry Walsh and Barry O’Flynn are effective forwards.

It was good also that Jayden Casey got some game time after a long injury lay-off.

There are two away games to come, but with Tipperary the reigning Munster and All-Ireland champions and Waterford both pointless, a semi-final spot at the very least beckons.