Colm O’Callaghan of Cork wins possession during the Allianz Football League Division 2 loss against Cavan at SuperValu Páirc Ui Chaoimh last weekend. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Huge weekend for Cork’s mens’ teams

It’s a pivotal weekend for both the Cork mens’ hurling and football teams. They have vital and must-win games to try and get back on track in their respective league campaigns - they cannot afford another defeat.

By contrast the camogie team will be hoping to make it two from two in the league.

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Cork v Waterford on Sunday at 3.45pm in Supervalu Páirc Uí Chaoimh

“Kevin (County CEO) probably won’t like me saying this but I am not really concerned about next year’s league, our main focus is on getting ready for the 1st round of the Munster Championship,” said Cork manager Pat Ryan after the 1 point defeat to Kilkenny two weeks ago.

Pat’s reference to next year, concerns the new format whereby the top 3 in Division 1A and 1B will make up the top division next year, which already looks set to include, Limerick, Galway, Tipperary, Clare and Kilkenny.

If Cork could win their remaining games, Wexford and Offaly after Sunday, they could yet grab the 3rd spot.

From a financial aspect it would benefit Cork, based on the attendance of 16,274 that were at the Kilkenny game, compared to just over 5,000 at Tipperary v Galway the following afternoon in Thurles.

As for the loss to Kilkenny, Pat was very disappointed especially with the opening 25 minutes, after which they trailed 0-13 to 0-4. “Very poor, doing all things wrong, playing short balls back and across the field, not been direct as we had planned to do.”

The finish to the half was good though: “Excellent - Conor (O’Callaghan) took his goal very well and we were only 4 points down at the break which considering how poor we were wasn’t too bad.”

After Kilkenny got 2 points on the resumption, Cork took over. “We did and played very well, missed a few goal chances (at least 4 by my count) and really probably should have won the game, but you cannot give teams like Kilkenny that big a lead as they are very good at closing games out.”

For the 2nd game in a row Cork started slowly; it was a poor start to the 2nd half against Clare.

Pat was pleased with the fight back and the impact off the bench. “All the lads we introduced made important contributions, none more so then Mark (Coleman) after such a long lay-off, and with more games, he will only get better.”

With a two week break, Pat said it would help as more players will be available. “Everyone should be back and with the UCC and MTU lads also freed up, there will be no distractions and we can get in a good two weeks training.”

The one downside was the injury to Robbie O’Flynn. Word is that it’s a 6 week lay-off for the Erin’s Own player.

Waterford are having their own difficulties with injuries with a raft of players absent and unlikely to be back from this game and having lost to Clare, they will be anxious to get something from this game, with Kilkenny up next.

Stephen Bennett - impressive against Clare - picked up a knock that could rule him out and he would be a big loss.

Seamus Fitzgerald, Neil Montgomery, Tom Barron, Mark Fitzgerald, Michael Kiely and PJ Fanning could all feature for the visitors and Davey Fitzgerald will be hoping that Bennett is also available as he is a key player.

The Cork starting 15 will be interesting and with a clear run at this game, it’s one they should and indeed need to win and set it up nicely for the remaining games, but nothing less than a fully committed 70 plus minutes will suffice.

The match is live on C103.

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Cork v Fermanagh in St Joseph’s Park Ederney at 2pm

Well if ever a win was needed, this is it. Relegation to Division 3 and participation in the Tailteann Cup are now a distinct possibility following the loss to Cavan last Saturday.

Again it was a case of missed goal chances, 3 at least, proving costly and manager John Cleary was pretty downbeat afterwards. “Very disappointing again; a game we should have won. We played well at times but like in Louth, not taking our goal chances cost us dearly in the end.”

John was also annoyed at a late free awarded to Cavan that put them back in front. Cork had actually overturned possession and were attacking, “I couldn’t see how he awarded the free; in the context of the game, it was a huge call.”

All they can do now though is put it behind them and move on to the long trip to Fermanagh. “The lads are a bit down now in the dressing room, but we go back training on Tuesday, review the game and plan for what is now a must-win game.”

Fermanagh themselves were well beaten by Donegal but they do have 3 points, a win over Kildare and a draw with Meath, and given that morale in the Cork camp is bound to be low, they will fancy their chances of grabbing 2 points, that would more or less see them avoid relegation and at the same time plunge Cork deeper into trouble.

Can Cork save themselves? The reality is they must win their 4 remaining games: after Sunday they have Meath away and 2 home ties with Kildare and Armagh - nothing easy there.

Relegation to Division 3 would be a real disaster and given that we must play Kerry in the Munster semi-final, assuming we beat Limerick in the quarter-final, a tricky few weeks await.

There are good players in this team, remember we ended up in the All-Ireland QF last year, so how we have we gone back in such a short space of time? Injuries have been a factor, but inconsistency is the other issue.

Long periods without scoring is another issue; rectify these and you are taking a step in the right direction, but the most important step is to win on Sunday. It’s a must, anything less and it will be a very long road home.

The match is live on C103.

Very Camogie League Division 1

Cork v Waterford at SETU on Saturday at 2pm

“Anytime you win in Kilkenny is a good result, especially as we have had very little done in the build up but it’s a great start,” said Cork manager Ger Manley after the win in Nowlan Park last Saturday.

They are on the road again this Saturday a repeat of the All-Ireland Final and there’s an extra ingredient thrown into the mix as the Deise girls are now managed by Jerry Wallis, a Midleton man just like Ger.

Waterford got their campaign off to a winning start as well beating Munster rivals Tipperary and that will give them a boost.

Beth Carton remains one of their key players along with Niamh Rockett, Lorraine Bray, Kate Lynch and Mairead O’Brien and they will be anxious to erase the memory of the heavy defeat suffered in that final last August.

Cork have a couple of injury concerns; both Pamela Mackey and Laura Treacy will miss out, but the depth in the squad was evident in Nowlan Park.

Amy O’Connor clipped over a neat point but the brace by another substitute Emma Murphy and quality scores they were, proved crucial as they dug out a big win.

Laura Hayes, Meabh Cahalane, Saoirse McCarthy and Katrina Mackey all made important contributions.

With no semi-finals, the top two contest the final and another win on Saturday will put Cork in a strong position with a couple of home games to come, and while I expect a huge effort from Waterford, who I believe have put in a big pre-season, Cork should prevail.

While on camogie, I was delighted along with John Cashman to be part of the 96FM/C103 team that picked up the Mick Dunne Media Award from the Camogie Association for our pre-match, match commentary, post- match and homecoming coverage of the All-Ireland Final last August, a wonderful entry put together by Mairead Twohig from our newsroom, well done to all!

Mitchelstown CBS v Ashourne

CS All-Ireland U19 Football semi-final

A year on from winning a hurling All-Ireland, the boys from the North Cork college are now in search of a football title with Willie Duggan once again guiding their fortunes.

They were comfortable winners over St Michaels College Listowel in the Munster Final racking up an impressive 1-20 in the process, with Cathal English - a Tipperary minor, Diramuid O’Brien, Cathal Walsh, Ben Carey, Kevin Cotter, Cian Ryan and Cian Coughlan key players on the day, a repeat of that scoring feat and they will be very hard to beat.

Crettyard in county Laois is the venue on Saturday at 2pm.

Pa Finn RIP

Pa’s passing last week severed a long link with his beloved St Finbarr’s whom he served with distinction on and off the field, winning a county medal as a player and then coaching them to another title.

Pa also worked the oracle with several other clubs as coach, notably St Catherine’s, Castleylons, Kilbrittain, Erin’s Own and Tracton as well as acting as a Cork senior hurling selector with his great friend Denis Walsh.

He also guided Cork to All-Ireland Senior Camogie titles and a little known fact and thanks to Marion McCarthy for this, he was responsible for the Cork camogie team’s switching from a white jersey to red. ‘Cork are red’ was his thinking and how right he was.

Away from hurling and camogie, he was a real gent, always in good form and great company to be in, which I enjoyed on a few occasions.

Sincere sympathy to his family and the many friends he made over the years.

Valley Rovers v Templenoe

A unique football game takes place in Brinny on Sunday at 2pm between the two clubs that the late Paudie Palmer gave so much to in a variety of roles. It should be a wonderful if somewhat sad occasion because he is not there.

The winners will receive the Paudie Palmer Memorial trophy and congrats to all involved in organising this fitting tribute to a man that we all still miss.