Hurlers welcome Cats to SuperValu Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Given the intense activity of recent weeks it’s relatively quiet this weekend with one game dominating the fixture list.
Cork face Kilkenny in a big game down the ‘Park, while in camogie, UCC are in Ashbourne Cup action also on Saturday.
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Cork v Kilkenny on Saturday at SuperValu Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 7.30pm
It may not be a must-win game but having lost to Clare last Sunday, a second defeat will only add that little bit of extra pressure to Pat Ryan and the players.
The league in recent years may have lost its appeal, even more so with the round-robin in championship following soon after, but given that it’s due for a revamp next season, it has taken added significance.
Where teams finish this year will determine where you play next year, and based on the hammerings that Westmeath, Antrim, Offaly and to a lesser extent Dublin have received, it’s a group you would want to avoid, as you would learn very little and be ill prepared for championship as a consequence.
All that though is for another day, and the concentration is very much on the coming weekend.
Naturally enough Pat Ryan was disappointed after the loss in Ennis. “Look you would have to be, we were in a good position at half-time just a point down having played against the wind, but all credit to Clare, they were deserving winners in the end”.
The concession of some soft scores was also a factor: “We lost possession a few times, gave away some silly frees and were punished.”
The clinching goal was a case in point, “we had cut the gap to just 2 points and had a bit of momentum, but coughed up the ball and to be fair is was a great finish by Seadna (Morey) and that was the big score.”
Speaking of goals, Pat was delighted with the 2 Cork got but there’s a need for more. “Yeah both Patrick (Horgan) and Tommy (O’Connell) took theirs very well after good work by Shane (Kingston) and Robbie (O’Flynn) and that was pleasing, but we need to be a bit more clinical in front of goal.”
Overall though not too concerned, “obviously we wanted to and came here to win, but it won’t define our season, we will review the game look at what we did wrong and prepare for Kilkenny next Saturday night.”
Pat said playing Kilkenny is always a big occasion. “Hopefully we will get a big crowd and hopefully get the win to get us back on track.”
Injuries and Fitzgibbon Cup fixtures will shape the team selection. “We have a lot of lads playing with UCC and MTU so we will keep an eye on that. As for the injuries, Mark Coleman, Rob Downey and a few more might come into contention, we will see how things go during the week.”
While the result was not what they wanted there was a few positives to be taken from the match; Ciaran Joyce was outstanding at centre-back, Robbie Flynn got valuable game time after a long lay-off and Patrick Collins made a couple of good saves.
The negatives were conceding needless frees that Mark Rodgers punished with 0-11, and the slow start to the 2nd half which ultimately cost them.
Clare played very well and their physical presence also gave them an edge while the players were certainly responding to Brian Lohan’s encouragement from the sidelines.
The composition of the Cork team will probably be shaped by injury and availability after the midweek 3rd level games, a schedule that several managers in both codes have been critical of in recent weeks.
While the Fitzgibbon and Sigerson Cups are huge competitions and can provide great grounding for players and must be retained, the timing of games needs looking at.
Take last night (Wednesday) for instance. UCC are playing in Limerick at 7pm, MTU are in Galway at 8pm; surely given that majority of players are playing again at the weekend, an afternoon time would have been more acceptable.
Last week I spoke to a UCC footballer who told me it was after 1.30am in the morning when they got back from Maynooth after their QF game in the Sigerson Cup.
That said, the GAA fixed an All-Ireland club hurling semi-final for a 7.30pm on the Saturday before Christmas - it shows little regard for players.
Kilkenny will travel down somewhat annoyed that they did not see their game with Wexford out, conceding a very late goal to earn the visitors a well earned draw.
TJ Reid, Huw Lawlor and Paddy Deegan will once again be absentees and they are big players for Derek Lyng’s side.
Cork have a good record against the Cats on home soil and with a consistent 70 minutes on Saturday, they will be hopeful of maintaining that with a win.
Let’s hope for a big crowd and the match is live on C103. Interestingly at 5.30pm, the same counties will meet in a minor challenge game.
It’s hard to believe given their rich tradition in the competition, it is all of 20 years since UCC last won the famed Ashbourne Cup; yes they have come close on a few occasions without actually getting over the line.
They go again next Saturday in the Connacht GAA Dome in Mayo when they play UL in the semi-final at 2pm.
Manager Jerry Wallis has put in a huge effort and with Donal O’Grady among his backroom team, they have plenty of experience to guide the group.
There is also a lot of quality players within the squad: Molly Lynch, Meabh Murphy, Cliona Dooley, Aofie Healy, Emma Murphy, Orlaith Mullins, Clodagh Finn and Maura Barrett are vastly experienced at various levels and that just might give them an edge.
It’s a busy weekend all round for the camogie section of the college as their 2nd team are also travelling west. They play SETU in the Purcell Cup semi-final with a 3pm start in this game.
Tough few weeks for footballers
2 games played and 2 defeats - not the ideal start for John Cleary in Division 2 of the Allianz National League, which makes the visit of Cavan to Leeside on Saturday week a must win game.
John made the point that they were in a similar position last season and recovered to ensure they would be playing in the Sam Maguire Cup finishing with 7 points, which was enough especially after the QF loss to Clare in the Munster Championship.
This year though, assuming we beat Limerick in the QF, it’s Kerry in Killarney in the semi-final, all the more important that the league position is enough to avoid dropping into the Tailteann Cup.
Cork did play better last Sunday but then the opposition were not as good as Donegal. The concession of 2 goals while playing with the wind in the 1st half were the decisive scores.
The failure to convert a couple of similar opportunities did not help, along with not scoring from the 55th minute, are matters that they will address in the welcome break before the Cavan game.
A few players returning from injury would also be a help.
Not a great day either for the ladies footballers who were well beaten by Kerry in Tralee, and afterwards Shane Roynane pulled no punches saying: “we weren’t good enough and Kerry played very well”.
In his defence, he and his selectors are in the process of effectively building a new team after so many his experienced players have either retired or in some cases gone travelling.
On the plus side, Katie Quirke is in great from and has bagged the majority of her side’s scores in the 3 games to date.
Dublin, Mayo and Meath await for Cork but next up are Waterford on Sunday week, a game they will be expected to win.
Last Friday night that magnificent Cahalane family were the deserving recipients of the Dermot Earley Family Award at the President’s Awards Ceremony in Croke Park, fittingly Cork’s Larry McCarthy did the honours.
What a family and their contribution to football, hurling, camogie and ladies football is unmatched anywhere in the country I would suggest.
Apart altogether from what Niall won at both club and county level, look at what was won this year alone.
Damien, Jack and Conor won county and Munster football medals with Castlehaven, while Meabh and Orla won All-Ireland camogie medals with Cork, the list goes on and on.
Congratulations to all, a well deserved honour!