Chris Óg Jones of Cork scoring his side’s first goal during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship quarter-final 3-13 to 0-11 win over Limerick at SuperValu Páirc Ui Chaoimh. Photo:Tom Beary/Sportsfile

Focus on minor and under 20 championships

It could very well be described as the calm before the storm as both Cork senior teams are little over a week away from vital Munster Championship games.

The fixture schedule is a bit harsh on supporters though with 2 away games the same weekend, Saturday 20 in Killarney and Sunday 21 in Waterford - fair bit of expense involved if you want to travel to both.

A Saturday fixture in Killarney is also somewhat unusual in that it was traditionally on a Sunday afternoon, but like everything else in the GAA calendar all is changed, and some not for the better in my opinion.

What has been noticeable in recent weeks has been the comments from inter-county managers voicing their disapproval at the current schedule, with games coming one week after another, league finals followed by championship a week later.

Inter-county managers can be very influential and they could very well have a say in how the season is structured going forward.

The spilt season has lots going for it, especially for club players with certainty around their games allowing them to plan their year.

On the negative side there is a view that the inter-county season concludes too early and as a consequence valuable TV times and media publicity is given over to other sports.

For example, the 2 quarter-finals of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship are fixed for Saturday 22 June at 1.15pm (yes 1.15pm) and 3.15pm to facilitate RTÉ showing the URC Rugby Final. This also happened 2 years ago and the final was contested between 2 teams from South Africa!

There would also appear to be a move to have the All-Ireland Finals revert back to August, again that would impact on the club championships, especially here in Cork it would have a major implications given the number of dual clubs.

The very tight time frame in which the county championships are played in, one bad weekend, weather wise and and the schedule would be severely disrupted.

Munster Minor Hurling Championship

Cork v Limerick on Thursday in Super Valu Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 7pm

“We knew coming up here we were facing a very good team, and some believe that Tipperary are among the favourites for the All-Ireland and they showed at times there tonight why that is so.” Cork selector Seanie McGrath speaking in Thurles after their loss last Wednesday night.

There were some pleasing aspects though as Seanie explained. “We looked to be in real trouble early on, but in fairness to the lads they kept battling away and we were only 2 points down at half-time.”

In fact early in the 2nd half they had drawn level but were unable to get ahead. “We did and had we gone ahead who knows, we could have kicked on and won, but look it was not to be. Tipp were that bit stronger than us, but we can’t fault the lads, they gave it their best and that’s all you can ask of them.”

Seanie also made the point a first championship game away from home and young lads can be an ordeal. “There’s no doubt about that and hopefully they will be better for it, we have Limerick at home next week and with a big crowd it will help and encourage the lads.”

It is Limerick’s first match and that might just give Cork a slight edge. “It might. A win will keep us in the hunt for a play-off spot and I know the lads will work hard.”

To be fair it should also be pointed out the rain that fell for periods of the game made it difficult for both teams, and Tipp were that bit more physical and that was a factor. Overall it was a good competitive outing.

It was the first game on the pitch in a few months and it help up well, but it didn’t look great for the league final last Saturday night.

A few changes: John Murphy and Riain O’Riordan come into the defence, Josh Goulding was good in goal while Cian Denis O’Connor, Conor Noonan and Liam Kelleher impressed.

Michael Tadgh Brosnan worked hard in attack but Mark O’Brien and Luke Murphy were excellent, Leo Hennessy gets an opportunity at right half forward

Playing at home and with a match under their belts will help, but a good start is important, playing catch up can sap the energy levels of young players - a win would also keep them in the hunt for a place in the knockout phase of the championship.

Munster Under 20 Hurling Championship

Cork v Clare on Friday in Super Valu Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 7pm

However bad the conditions in Thurles were on Wednesday night, it was nothing compared to the driving wind and rain in Dungarvan on Friday, although the pitch was excellent, as the Under 20s got off to the best possible start with a comfortable win.

Yes they were hot favourites and with a core of last year’s team on duty, they justified that tag, but what was most impressive was the manner in which it was achieved.

Despite the conditions, they played quality hurling all through; their touch, distribution all night was top class, effectively it was game over by half-time such was their lead.

Manager Ben O’Connor was very happy afterwards. “Ah sure you would have to be especially in the conditions. We got the job done early and played some lovely hurling, slackened off a bit in the 2nd half but that was understandable on the night that it was.”

The depth in the squad is important Ross and Adam O’Sullivan didn’t start, were introduced and Timmy Wilke was absent through injury - all three were key players last season.

Ben made this point: “The hardest job we have is picking the match day panel and having to tell players they are not on the 24, not to mind the 15, is not easy I can tell you but I suppose it’s a good complaint to have.”

Attitude and application is important, “They all work hard in training and that shows on the field - the way the lads apply themselves.”

As for Clare and Timmy Wilke, Ben added: “With the conditions we did not want to take a chance with Timmy, he should be okay for the next game hopefully.”

On Clare, he said: “We had two great games with them last year in Ennis and in the final and just got over the line both nights. They have lost a few, we have lost a few so it has the makings of a great game, one to look forward to.”

Like Cork Clare won their opening game, a tight affair in Sixmilebridge beating Limerick by 2 points, and with the seniors having won the league on Saturday, they will relish the trip to Leeside and hope they can put one over on the champions.

In that win they had impressive displays from Sean Rynne, Conor Whelan, Michael Collins (he scored 2-1), Niall O’Farrell and Jack O’Neill.

Cork had excellent performers in Dungarvan in Kevin Lyons, Darragh O’Sullivan, Oran O’Regan, Ben Walsh, William Buckley, Diarmuid Healy and Jack Leahy he hit 0-10, which on the night was top class.

This has the makings of a cracking contest and whoever wins will be in a very strong position to progress. Cork won in Ennis last year, let’s hope they can win on home soil this time round.

Munster Under 20 Football Championship

Cork v Kerry on Wednesday 17 in Super Valu Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 7pm

Previewing this match is a bit of a shot in the dark as both will only have their opening game last night (Wednesday) with Cork away to Tipperary while Kerry travelled to play Clare.

Based on the results at minor level, both Cork and Kerry should win, but their opposition will both be playing their 4th championship outing as against the 1st for the two sides that have dominated this competition in recent years.

If they both as expected win, this latest chapter in their rivalry will be interesting as with having home advantage for their last game in the round-robin phase, the expectation is that they will once again meet in the final.

Kerry are the holders and have good players in Dara O’Callaghan, Darragh O’Connor, Rob Stack, Odhran Ferris, Charlie Keating and Aidan Crowley and they comfortably saw off Cork in that final.

Cork have 5 of last year’s panel involved Hugh O’Connor the captain, Ross Corkery, Dan Twomey, Olan Corcoran and Niall Kelly, 2 others featured on the minor team, Gearoid Daly and Darragh Sheehy.

Mikey O’Connell is a very good goalkeeper, Rory O’Shaughnessy is an excellent midfielder while Jack O’Neill impressed with Castlehaven in their extended championship.

Hard one to call, but whoever wins, might learn a bit before a likely 2nd meeting in the Munster Final a few weeks later.


The Cork minor camogie team have secured a place in the All-Ireland semi-final with a game to spare and their impressive wins on the road to Tipperary and Galway in recent weeks should have them in relaxed mood ahead of their final group game.

They play Kilkenny in Castle Road on Sunday at 2pm with the visitors also guaranteed to make the last four.

Of course winning is a habit and both will want to maintain that momentum, with the possibility they could very well meet again when there’s a bit more at stake.

Tipperary are also qualified, the 4th spot is up grabs. If Waterford beat Tipperary they will pip Galway for the that place.

On Saturday both Cork under 16 teams contest their respective Munster Finals with Limerick providing the opposition in both the B Final at 5.45pm and the A decider at 4.15pm on the 4G pitch in Fethard.

Some games next week in football Cork v Kerry, Cork v Waterford in hurling, Cork v Clare in camogie and in ladies football, it’s Cork v Waterford - now if only the weather would improve!