Cork goalkeeper Patrick Doyle scores a goal in the penalty shoot out win during the McGrath Cup final match against Kerry at Páirc Ui Rinn on Saturday. Photo: Michael P Ryan/Sportsfile

Tough opener for Cork footballers in Donegal

There’s a long trip to Ballybofey for John Cleary’s men, while the ladies footballers are hoping for a 2nd win in the league and the camogie leagues get underway too.

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Cork v Donegal on Sunday in Ballybofey at 1.45pm

Having retained the McGrath Cup in the first ever penalty shootout in the competition, Cork manager John Cleary was pleased more with the workout then the result. “Look it’s nice to win, we weren’t taking the penalty shootout too serious - we were laughing and joking amongst ourselves but it’s a win and a nice one for the lads.”

John always felt it would come down to Cork and Kerry in the final. “It looked that way when we saw the draw and it was a good competitive contest in that regard as we won the other two games easy enough.”

The lads that put their hands up also helped. “They did yeah; we took a different approach to it this year, as we felt we needed to have a good look at players and see how they would fare at this level, and we are happy enough with the response. We also have a development squad going so that’s important as well.”

The big concern at the moment is the injury list. “That is a worry, not sure off hand how many are out but Micheál Aodh, Sean Powter, Steven Sherlock, Kevin O’Donovan, Killian O’Hanlon and a few more - some are short others a bit longer. One or two might be back for the 2nd game against Louth but that’s what we have a panel for. Others will hopefully put their hands up.”

The good news on the injury front was the recovery of some players including Luke Fahy. “Sean Meehan is going well and Ruairi Deane just has a dead leg there but he should be okay.”

As for the Castlehaven lads, “Cathal said he wanted to come back in quickly, Rory is training, so is Brian, but he probably won’t be right for Sunday.”

John accepts that they could not have got a tougher opening game. “That’s true, they seem to be going well but every game in this division is tough. We are away again the following week to Louth so we will hope to hit the ground running, it’s a long trip but that’s the joys of it.”

It is also a step up in quality from their recent games, Kerry apart. “It is but as I have said before we need to be playing top teams all the time and raising our standards as we want to be in the top division.”

Donegal enjoyed a very good McKenna Cup campaign but came a cropper to Derry in the final but that will hardly trouble McGuinness, he will have got what he wanted out of the competition.

Word is they are doing a lot of physical work and that might have been a factor but in front of what is certain to be a very big crowd, they will be hard to beat.

The composition of the Cork team will be interesting, if a few of the injuries clear up, those lads might start as experience will important away from home.

Patrick Doyle impressed in the win over Kerry, while Sean Meehan, Kevin Flahive, Tommy Walsh and Luke Fahy could be included in defence.

The midfield pairing of Ian Maguire and Colm O’Callaghan looks set in stone.

In attack Sherlock and Hurley’s absences will be a loss, but hopefully Eoghan McSweeney, Deane, Conor Corbett and Chris Óg Jones can build on the form they have shown in early season.

It’s a big ask to get a win with so many injury worries, but just maybe they can get off to the best possible start.

Full match commentary live on C103.

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Cork v Armagh on Sunday in Páirc Uí Rinn at 1pm

Both of these sides won their opening games last weekend in dreadful conditions so they will be hopeful for much better weather on Sunday in what has the makings of an intriguing encounter.

Cork despite being without a raft of quality players got the better of Galway. The only concern, if you could call it that, is the tally of 1-6 all came from Kate Quirke - impressive scoring in the conditions.

In fact the same player scored 2 late frees the last time the sides met in the QF of the All-Ireland Championship - a game Cork won by 2 points!

Libby Coppinger, Melissa Duggan, Hannah Looney, Amy McDonagh and Maire O’Callaghan all played well as this new-look Cork team got the best possible start to the new campaign.

Armagh were 5 point winners over Waterford with Aimee Mackin contributing 1-2; she missed that defeat to Cork with an injury, while Aoife McCoy, Clodagh McCambridge and Caroline O’Hanlon will all feature for the Orchard County girls, who are back in Division 1 for the first time since 2016.

Cork will have been boosted by the win over Galway that and home advantage might help them make it two from two before a trip to Tralee in a couple of weeks time.

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Cork v Tipperary on Saturday at The Ragg at 2pm

Donie Daly’s first outing as manager is a trip up the motorway for a clash with their Munster rivals, hampered by a late appointment which will have given them very little time to prepare.

For all that though, he has been involved with various underage teams in recent years and will be well aware of the players that are available to him.

Cork were Munster Intermediate champions last year and also made the All-Ireland semi-final and while a number of players that featured are not available, they should still be too strong for a youthful Tipperary side, who will be playing in the All-Ireland Junior Championship.

Grainne Hannon, Niamh O’Leary, Grainne Cahalane, Cliona Dooley, Fiona Nelligan and Lauren Homan have quality and that will help.

Tipperary are now managed by former senior boss Bill Mullaney and like Cork, they will also be without a few players. They can call on Aoife O’Brien, Ciara Ryan, Ciara Brennan and Amy Callanan.

Cork with a bit more experienced players should win.

The Glen Dimplex All-Ireland Championship draws were also made on Monday and the Intermediate team were drawn in Group 1 alongside, Offaly, Westmeath, Wexford, Galway and Clare, and with 3 teams to advance, they will fancy their chances of progressing.

Senior champions Cork are in Group 2 with Galway, Down, Wexford, Clare and Dublin. The key game here will be the Cork v Galway meaning the winners will almost certainly get the semi-final spot on offer and based on last year’s fixtures, that match should be on Leeside.

Incidentally the Cork senior team’s Division 1 League campaign does not get underway until Saturday 14 February away to Kilkenny at 2pm.

Sports Star awards

Friday night is the big one when the 20th Gala Banquet of the 96FM/C103 GAA Sports Star awards takes place in the Rochestown Park Hotel.

Apart from the overall award winner to be announced, 2 other awards will also be presented; the Kieran O’Driscoll Youth Award and this has seen Ben Cunningham, Darragh O’Sullivan, Brian Turnbull, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Conor Corbett honoured in recent years.

The Donal Lehane Distinquished Career Award has proved very popular since its introduction and the very best in Cork have picked up this accolade including John Coleman, Larry Tompkins, Dinny Allen, Tomás Mulcahy, Tom Cashman, John Fenton and Gerald McCarthy among them.

The monthly winners in contention for the overall award are Shane Beston - Ballygiblin; Dylan Foley - UCC; Willie Duggan - Mitchelstown CBS; Eoin Downey - Cork under 20 hurling; Doireann O’Sullivan - Cork ladies football; Michael Mullins - Cork under 20 hurling; Rory Maguire - Cork Football; Amy O’Connor - Cork camogie; Tadgh Twomey - Newcestown; Cathal McCarthy - Sarsfields; Paul Ring - Aghabullogue; Mark Collins - Castlehaven and Danno Dineen.

It promises to be a wonderful occasion and best of luck to all the monthly winners.


Well done to Patrician Academy Mallow on their splendid win in the Corn Uí Mhuirí quarter-final keeping the Cork flag flying and denying Kerry all four semi-final spots.

Shame that the Co-Op Superstores Munster Senior Hurling League had to be abandoned as it deprived all 3 remaining teams of at least 1 more competitive outing before the start of the league on Sunday week.

Disappointing to read that so many quality referees were deemed unfit to officiate at this week’s games. While fitness is important, surely competence is far more credible and the reaction has been very much in favour of those ruled out of this week’s games.

Word is that it took a lot of persuasion for the other referees to actually officiate at this weekend games, as they were very supportive of their colleagues, which is good to see.

At least those that failed will get an opportunity to redress the situation, unlike last season when one of the best around Dave Coldrick was sidelined for the entire year.

Let’s hope it’s resolved sooner rather than later.