Daniel Flynn of Kildare shoots under pressure from Daniel O’Mahony of Cork during the Allianz Football League Division 2 win for Cork at SuperValu Páirc Ui Chaoimh. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Hurlers face important Offaly game in the league

With John Cleary’s side on a 4 day training camp in Portugal, the focus is now on the hurlers as they play Offaly on Sunday, where a win would keep them in contention for a 3rd place finish.

Mark Coleman’s injury overshadowed their training camp in Kerry over the weekend.

There are vital games in camogie as well, while the Higher Education Ladies Football semi-finals and finals are been hosted by MTU Friday and Saturday.

Allianz NHL D1A

Cork v Offaly at O’Connor Park Tullamore on Sunday at 1.15pm

Having picked up their first win against Waterford two weeks ago, Manager Pat Ryan was delighted with most aspects of the game.

“Important to get the win but again inconsistent in some parts which we will address ahead of the next game.”

He acknowledged that the first half was disappointing. “Yeah it never really came to life, but we spoke about it at half-time and the second half for long periods was much better.”

Cork really flew out of the blocks on the resumption and put the game beyond Waterford, well that’s what everyone in the crowd thought. “We were excellent for that twenty minutes, some great scores and the goal was top class and we looked very good and comfortable at that point.”

The changes made, 11 before the start, might have impacted as well. “We brought in 5 subs, while Waterford brought on some very experienced players and that may have stopped the flow of the game, but we got the win.”

As for Offaly, Pat said: “Offaly have improved in the last couple of years and will not be easy.”

Injury-wise things are improving Pat was speaking before Mark Coleman’s injury. “Nearly all good to go now, Ben (Cunningham) and Darragh (Fitzgibbon) should be ready for that game and that will be important.”

What starting 15 will Pat and his selectors go with, given that there are likely to be just 2 competitive games left before the championship opener on 21 April? Unless, that is a combination of 2 wins and results elsewhere go their way and a semi-final spot is secured.

With the exception of Fitzgibbon and Declan Dalton, all panel members have seen game time during the league so they must have a fair idea now of who will make the championship panel and that might influence their thinking, balancing that with the need to win the game.

The last visit to the Faithful County produced a very one sided encounter, but in the interim Offaly have improved; they drew with Wexford and pushed both Kilkenny and Waterford but eventually lost each time.

Michael Duignan in his role as chairman seems to have brought a new dynamic to the county, they were denied a minor All-Ireland two years ago when Tipperary got a late goal, it should have been a free out before that, and then last year lost to Cork in the under 20 final so they are going in the right direction.

Eoghan Cahill, Dan Ravenhill, Charlie Mitchell, Cillian Kiely, Eimhin Kelly and the very talented Adam Screeney have all played well in their games to date and they badly need a win if they are to avoid dropping out of the top grade for next season.

Briain Saunderson did little wrong the last apart from a few puck outs going astray so he might get another run, Ciaran Joyce was the stand out defender, while Eoin Downey also excelled when coming in for the injured Sean O’Donoghue even clipping over a fantastic point from long range.

Damien Cahalane will probably also get another run at full-back.

Tommy O’Connell looks to have nailed down one of the midfield berths, picking a partner will be interesting, especially if Darragh Fitzgibbon gets to start alongside him.

Based on recent selections Patrick Horgan, Harnedy and Lehane look nailed on. There are a variety of other options also in the frame: Barrett, Connolly, Kingston, Jack O’Connor, Conor Cahalane, Sean Twomey and maybe even Tim O’Mahoney are contenders.

Cork will look for a consistent 70 minutes and if they get that, this is one game they should win, even allowing for Offaly’s improvement.

The match is live on C103.

Division 1A Camogie

Cork v Tipperary on Saturday at Páirc Uí Rinn at 12pm

With 2 wins from 2 both away from home, if Cork win this game, they would be on the cusp of reaching the league final as only the top 2 qualify.

They will be wary of this clash though as in a pre-season friendly Tipperary came out on top - admittedly it was a cold Friday night in January and Cork had very little done.

Manager Ger Manley speaking after the Waterford game was pleased with the progress. “Doing fine, training is intensifying every week and it was good to get a win down here. Obviously Waterford set up very defensively obviously mindful of the All-Ireland Final but we dug it out and got the win.”

Having had the first two games away from home, Ger is looking forward to Saturday. “Always nice to be playing at home and there is a nice atmosphere in Páirc Uí Rinn, so hopefully we can get another win and keep the momentum going.”

The fact that both sides only scored 0-1 each in the second half was a surprise. “The pitch was poor now and the first touch was hard on both sides; defensively we were good and to be fair Amy (Lee) was very good in goal and made a couple of top class saves.”

What are they looking to get from the league?

“Well we go out to try and win every game and a couple more and we could be in the final. Then after the league, we have the Munster Championship so it will be busy; ideally we get game time into players, especially the girls coming back from injury, but next up it’s Tipperary and that is our focus for now,” he added.

There is a keen rivalry between the sides, although Cait Devane will be missing due to the small matter of her wedding, hence the 12pm start.

Tipperary were 3-10 to 1-13 winners over Galway in the last round, with Eimear McGrath contributing 3-7 and while that is exceptional scoring, they will look for a better return from the other forwards if they want to beat Cork.

Eimear Heffernan, Teresa Ryan, Clodagh Quirke and Nicole Walsh all impressed in that win; coming a week after losing to Waterford it was one they needed.

Cork will look to contain McGrath and in Laura Hayes, Libbly Coppinger and Meabh Cahalane they have defenders well up to that job.

Saoirse McCarthy, Ashling Thompson, Amy O’Connor and Catriona Mackey gives them options all over the field and they should make it 3 from 3.

There was good news on Tuesday that once again Munster Senior Camogie Championship games will be played as curtain-raisers to the hurling championship. Cork v Clare will be on Sunday 28 at 12pm in Super Valu Páirc Uí Chaoimh, before the same counties meet in the hurling and should Cork win, they will play in final on 19 May in Thurles at 1.45pm before the Cork v Tipperary hurling game.

Division 2 Camogie

Cork v Clare on Saturday at Castle Road at 2pm

Having suffered their first defeat last week to Wexford, Cork can still qualify for the final with a win or a draw in this game.

The management certainly gave game time to all players on the panel throughout the campaign but now with the final in sight, the expectation is that they will go with a near full strength side for this match.

Clare have only won one game so Cork will be favourites and if Lauren Homan, Niamh O’Leary, Grainne Hannon, Finola Nelligan, Ciara O’Leary gets a start in goal, and Ciara O’Sullivan play to form they should do enough to progress to the final of a competition they are the current holders of.

Higher Education ladies football

The MTU complex will be a hive of activity from Thursday to Saturday when the concluding stages of the Donaghy, Lagan and HEC Finals will be played on Thursday.

On Friday the semi-finals of the Moynihan, Lynch and O’Connor Cups will take place with the finals on Saturday. On Friday it’s also the final of the Giles Cup.

In total, 13 third level colleges are involved over the 3 days with both MTU and UCC included.

MTU play DKIT in the Lynch Cup semi-final on Friday at 3pm, while in the the premier competition, the O’Connor Cup, in the semi-final UCC play Ulster University on the main pitch at 1.30pm.

The 3 finals on Saturday are on the main pitch.

At 12pm it’s the Moynihan Cup Final, while at 2pm, the Lynch Cup Final takes place followed by the O’Connor Cup Final at 4pm.

Let’s hope the Cork girls make their respective finals and best of luck to all involved in this huge logistical organisation.

In the Lidl Ladies Football National League, a 4th successive defeat has Cork on the brink of relegation with 2 tough away games to Dublin and Meath to come.

One win might be good enough to avoid the drop but with the opposition in contention for semi-final spots, that will be a big ask.

Club walk

On Saturday week 16 March, Glen Rovers are holding a 5k sponsored walk (certainly in my case!)/run to raise funds for the upkeep and improving facilities.

It has the support of all sections of the club, St Nick’s, Glen Rovers Camogie and St Nick’s Ladies and to date the support and response has been excellent and hopefully it will continue right up to the day of the event.

On a personal level, my thanks to all who have sponsored me.

It is really appreciated and with just over a week to go, any further contributions will be welcome.