Tipp in town should be a thriller
Munster Senior Hurling Championship
Cork v Tipperary on Saturday at Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 7pm
It’s hurling’s most enduring rivalry and on Saturday night Cork and Tipperary will add another chapter to a story that has been part and parcel of hurling folklore and they may well live up to that.
Both are coming in on the back of impressive wins - Cork with a 6 day turnaround, Tipperary with a week off to refresh and recharge after their excellent win in Ennis.
It really is turning into a fascinating championship; Clare’s win over Limerick really threw the cat among the pigeons, with all bar Waterford I would suggest still in the hunt for the 3 spots on offer.
“Delighted to get the two points and a great start - every point is going to be vital in this group phase, so now it’s on to Tipperary,” Cork manager Pat Ryan said after the comfortable win over Waterford.
Pat was also pleased with the way they started despite the long break. “Yeah we hit the ground running and while we made a few errors we had a good platform and we were able to contain whatever Waterford threw at us.”
Getting game time into a lot of players was another important aspect of the win. “That was important especially for lads that had not played in a while, Robbie (O’Flynn) and Shane (Kingston) did well when introduced.”
Pat knows that Tipperary will present another huge test: “No doubt about that, they had a great win in Ennis, always a hard place to go. They also had a week off so they will be fresh, but look we knew that was the schedule and we will be ready.”
Cork were very impressive last Sunday, even allowing for a poor Waterford display, but that is outside Cork’s control - you can only play what is in front of you.
A few areas of concern were the lack of goal chances created, just 1, while at the other end, only good goalkeeping and defending denied Waterford a goal or even two.
That said the defence was excellent and with Eoin Downey likely to start, who will make way? Also Sean O’Donoghue is nearing fitness - another option.
Darragh Fitzgibbon made an immediate impact on his first start of the year as did Brian Roche.
The attack benefitted from the quality and quick ball they received and some of the points scored were out of the top drawer.
Patrick Horgan’s in particular, Robbie O’Flynn and what about the brace of beauties from Robert Downey?
Luke Meade was his usual busy self, clipped over a lovely point, and the work rate all over the field was excellent and it will have to as good again and maybe better on Saturday.
Equally good was the style of play; it was fast and direct at all times, and that showed in the manner of the victory and a long way from the display served up in the league semi-final loss to Kilkenny.
Obviously the work on the training ground was put to good use and it paid off.
Tipperary bagged 5 goals in Ennis with Jake Morris and Jason Forde who between them bagged 4-10 in top form and here the Cork defenders will need to be at their best.
Seamus Kennedy and Noel McGrath can also trouble any defence.
Barry Hogan, Cathal Barrett, Ronan Maher and Dan McCormack will all relish the trip to a venue where their record has been good in recent years.
Liam Cahill has really revitalised this team on his return and as under 21 boss, he had a very good record against Cork. He will be keen to maintain it, but this is another level.
Games between these keenest of rivals are always hard to call, especially with both coming off the back of opening round wins, and another will strengthen their chances of progressing.
Cork’s next two games are on the road to Clare and Limerick and going there with 2 from 2 would be ideal, so with that and another huge home following getting behind them, they get the nod to win.
The match is live on C103.
Munster Minor Hurling Final
Cork v Clare on Tuesday (time and venue TBC)
Cork go into this game having won a cracking contest against Limerick, but also under a cloud with the untimely passing of Brendan Walsh, father of Darragh Walsh from the Killeagh club, to whom we extend our heartfelt sympathy.
Darragh was outstanding in that win having missed the game in Sixmilebridge through injury as Clare eased to a comfortable win and showed their quality again by beating Limerick in the semi-final.
Cork picked up a few knocks in their last game and hopefully all will have recovered in time.
This is a Cork team that have shown varying degrees of form in their games to date and Oisin Walsh, Darragh McCarthy, Zach Biggane, Conor McCarthy and Barry O’Flynn have all made important contributions.
From what I have seen Clare are one of the better teams in this championship, with Ronan Keane and James Hegarty anchoring a solid defence.
Jack Mescall, Eoin Ogie Fanning and Michael Collins are well able to take their scoring opportunities.
It’s the 2nd year in a row that the Banner lads have reached the final and they look well equipped to win this time round, leaving Cork to head into the All-Ireland semi-final against the Leinster champions in a couple of weeks time.
Camogie All-Ireland Minor Final
Cork v Waterford on Sunday in Nowlan Park at 4.30pm
Cork head into this game as the reigning champions but also conscious that the one game they lost in the group phase was to Sunday’s opponents.
These are good times for Waterford camogie and the win by the seniors over Cork last Sunday was further proof that the game in a healthy state in the county.
It’s to Cork’s credit that they rebounded from that loss by securing a semi-final place after drawing away to Kilkenny and then beating Galway and then repeated that result in a thrilling last four encounter.
Millie Condon, Ava Fitzgerald, Ciara Morrison, Niamh McNabola and sisters Emily and Caoimhe O’Donoghue are key players for Cork and the motivation to retain the title and in the process give the game in the county a lift after recent losses might be enough to get them over the line.
Cork v Kerry on Sunday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 2pm
Originally pencilled in as a curtain-raiser to what many hoped would be a men’s Senior Football final between the same counties, but Clare upset that plan so Cork now enjoy home advantage.
Both sides won their opening games and based on that this could actually end up as the Munster Final and this will have a bearing on the draw for the All-Ireland series.
The sides met in the league a few weeks ago also in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and while Cork won, Kerry had already secured their place in the final, which they subsequently won, and left some of their big guns on the bench.
Kerry have improved immeasurably in the last couple of years and with Cork in the rebuilding process, the league champions will be favoured to win this one.
Weeks after their defeat by Clare, Cork finally, well almost know who they will face in the round-robin phase of the Sam Maguire Cup.
Group 1 sees them paired with Mayo, Dublin or Louth and Kerry or Clare.
The reality is that both Kerry and Dublin are going to win their respective provincial finals, which will see Cork play Louth away, Kerry at home, with the Mayo game at a neutral venue.
With 3 teams coming out of the group, the opener likely against Louth, probably on Saturday 27 May (the hurlers are away to Clare on the Sunday) holds the key. Win that game and it should be enough to secure a place in the preliminary quarter-final.
With Ardee, their venue for the league been ruled insufficient for championship, it is understood that Pairc Tailteann in Navan will be their nominated venue.
I have heard the view that they would be better in the Tailteann Cup. It’s a view I do not share - whatever happens after this phase John Cleary will know a lot more about the depth of his squad, playing good quality opposition.
John was relieved finally to know who and when they would be playing.
“At least we now know when we are playing and we are really looking forward to the 3 games, and hopefully a few more.”
Naturally very disappointed at losing to Clare, the response has been excellent: “The lads have been brilliant. We got back at it the following week and we have worked hard in the intervening weeks, injuries are clearing up and we will need everyone as the games come thick and fast.”
John also said that the captain Brian Hurley is training well and should be okay for the opening game.
“He is the injury took a bit longer than we thought but the plus side is the extra few weeks have helped.”
The opening game, probably against Louth will shape the group, win that and at the very least third place should be secured and with it a place in the preliminary quarter-final.