Luke Fahy of Cork, 5, scores his side’s second goal during the Allianz Football League Division 2 draw against Armagh at SuperValu Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Munster Championship gets underway for Cork trio

It’s the time of the year when the sun should be shining, says he hopefully, as 3 Cork teams embark on their Munster Championship campaigns in the space of 4 days. In camogie, the minors continue their bid for a place in the knockout phase of the All-Ireland series.

Munster Senior Football Championship QF

Cork v Limerick in Super Valu Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday at 2pm

In the immediate aftermath of the cracking draw with Armagh in their final league game, both manager John Cleary and player Sean Powter said the focus now was on the Championship and they were adamant they would not underestimate Jimmy Lee’s side.

Both referenced the events in Ennis last year, a one point loss to Clare that derailed their Munster Championship campaign.

In the immediate aftermath of the Armagh game, John said: “The league ended positively for us and we should be safe in the Sam Maguire Cup but from tomorrow (Sunday) the focus is on Limerick. We are only taking it one game at a time, people are mentioning Kerry, that is not even in our thoughts until it becomes a certainty.”

The fact that Limerick were relegated to Division 4 was not even being entertained by the manager. “That won’t matter - in many ways it might help them as they are under no pressure, and we have had a few tough games against them over the years, so we will give them the respect they deserve.”

Sean Powter, and how good it is to see this very talented player get an injury-free run, was of the same opinion. “We know what happened in Ennis last year - we went into that game as favourites and we got turned over so for now all focus is on Limerick and winning that game.”

The Douglas player is also pleased with the way the squad is now developing. “Getting stronger with every game, a few guys with knocks but now we can replace them with very good players and with the way the season is going you are going to need everyone.”

On the injuries John confirmed that both Rory Maguire and Killian O’Hanlon will miss the game on Sunday and are still rated doubtful for the Kerry game if they win, while Ruairi Deane sat out the Armagh game, but could be available for Sunday.

It’s been a tough few weeks for Limerick, losing all 7 games in the league but manager Jimmy Lee was taking it on the chin. “Ah sure it has been difficult, bit unlucky in some games but can’t fault the efforts of the lads.”

Limerick have not been helped by the decision of some of their more experienced players to opt out at the start of the season.

As for the trip to Leeside Jimmy had this to say: “We know it’s going to be a tough game for us, but all we can do is prepare as best we can, and give it our best shot and see where that takes us.”

Jimmy also agrees that Cork’s form of late has been impressive. “Oh it has; they won their last 3 with some high scores, they seem to be hitting form at just the right time.”

Limerick even appear to have an issue with who to play in goal and at this stage Josh Ryan looks likely to get the nod have previously played in midfield and the full-forward line.

Ryan even though playing in goal, kicked 4 points in the narrow defeat (0-9 to 0-8) to Wicklow a game in which Sean O’Dea, Iain Corbett, James Naughton and Robbie Childs played well,

Cork should win and comfortably at that, especially based on their scoring return of late - 5-46 in their last 4 games and 5-42 has come from play.

Conor Corbett, Chris Óg Jones, Brian O’Driscoll and Steven Sherlock have contributed, while Ian Maguire and Colm O’Callaghan have impressed in midfield.

Micheál Aodh Martin looks set to start in goal, while Luke Fahy, Matty Taylor and Tommy Walsh are effective in defence.

Cork are hot favourites to win and set up a trip to Killarney in 2 weeks time.

The match on Sunday is live on C103.

Munster Minor Hurling Championship

Cork v Tipperary in Semple Stadium Thurles on Thursday (tonight) at 7pm

John Meyler embarks on yet another campaign as manager of this team which is remarkable and testimony to a man who has devoted endless hours coaching teams at various grades, and you can be sure this group will be well prepared!

They face a strong enough looking Tipperary side and playing in Thurles, the first game there in a matter of months, the home side will want to make the most of that advantage.

While the Harty Cup can at times give a somewhat false impression given the age difference, the fact that 2 Tipperary schools contested the final might be an indication that they are in a good place.

There is an interesting look to the Cork team, 11 of whom started a recent challenge game against Kilkenny, which they won 3-13 to 2-7.

County champions Glen Rovers have 2 players on the starting 15, goalkeeper Josh Goulding and Michael Tadgh Brosnan at right half forward.

Liam Kelleher from Douglas will captain the side and his club mate Mark O’Brien is at centre-forward.

Cormac Deane, son of Joe lines out at left corner forward, while Conor Noonan, Oisin O’Connell and Joe Twohig are also included in the starting 15.

The result in this game will not define the season but a win would be a nice start especially when your next game is at home.

Slight change this year as the semi-final has been dispensed with and the top two at the conclusion of the round-robin phase will contest the final.

Munster Under 20 Hurling Championship

Cork v Waterford in Fraher Field Dungarvan on Friday at 7pm

Having swept all before them at both provincial and national level last year, Ben O’Connor’s men embark on a mission to retain their respective titles, and are already seen by many as the team to beat; dangerous talk at times, as every match and season are different.

Cork have a very strong panel available again this season and are captained by Ballinhassig’s Darragh O’Sullivan who could miss this game through injury, his brother Adam is also involved.

Kevin Lyons, Timmy Wilk, Jamie Dwyer, Cillian Tobin, Tadgh O’Connell, Diarmuid Healy, William Buckley, Ben Nyhan, Ross O’Sullivan and Eoin O’Leary are others who played in last season’s campaign and that’s a good base for any team to start off with.

Like the minors, they have had a series of challenge games over the last few weeks and as is the case mixed results but learning something every time they go out.

Cork were easy winners over Waterford in the corresponding fixture last year and while the Fraher Field is a tight and probably heavy at this time of the year, a Cork win looks certain which sets it up nicely for round 2 at home to Clare next week.

Unlike the minor, there is a semi-final in this grade with the top team going direct to the final.

Under 20 Football Championship

This group open their Munster Championship campaign away to Tipperary on Wednesday 10 April at 7pm.

The format for the championship was changed this year, with the 4 so-called weaker counties Tipperary, Limerick, Clare and Waterford playing off in a round-robin, at the end of which Tipperary and Clare progressing to phase 2, where Cork and Kerry enter the championship.

Incidentally the two teams that lost out will play the B Final for the John Kerin’s Cup and the winners will play in the All-Ireland B Championship, a good move to develop football in these two counties.

It all means though that Cork will be facing a side that will be playing their 4th championship game and that is an advantage. In fact they are unbeaten winning 2 and drawing 1, so their form is good.

Cork have been reliant challenge games and like their hurling counterparts have had mixed results.

The panel includes Darragh Clifford, Darragh O’Donovan, Rory O’Shaughnessy, Brian Hayes, Jack O’Neill, Michael Maguire, Ross Corkery, Mikey O’Connell and captain Hugh O’Connor.

Cork have had the edge over Tipperary at minor level in recent years, but the championship games the Premier County have played will probably give them an edge, for all that though there is enough talent in the Cork panel to get a positive result.

A win would set them up nicely for the visit of Kerry a week later, in fact they actually have 2 of their 3 games at home, and maybe at the end of it all we will still end up with a Cork v Kerry decider on 1 May.

All-Ireland Minor Camogie

Cork v Tipperary on Sunday at The Ragg at 2pm

Having played 3 games to date, Cork are unbeaten with 2 wins and 1 draw and in with a great chance of progressing to the knockout phase, but this is a tough one as Tipperary have won their 3 games.

Cork’s most impressive display was last time out away to Galway where they hit 0-19 in an important win.

Principal scorer in that victory Orlaith Cremin with 0-11 (0-5 from play), while Sarah Murphy, Eva O’Dwyer, Ava McAuliffe and Lucy O’Connell also impressed.

The Ragg is a tough place to go and get a result but if they can repeat the performance of their trip to Galway, they are well capable of getting a favourable result.

Cork’s final game is at home to Kilkenny on Sunday week, so irrespective of Sunday’s result, the group is going to the last day before the knockout places are determined.

The seniors will have been disappointed at their loss to Galway last Saturday which denied them a place - for the 3rd year in a row - in the league final.

A scoring return of 0-9 was never going to be enough although the flow of the game was spoiled by an over fussy referee.

The players now head off for a well deserved few days holiday in the sun and when they return they can focus on the Munster Championship opener against Clare in Super Valu Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday 28 April at 12pm as a curtain-raiser to the Munster hurling game between the same counties. The real business starts here.