Cork hurler and eir ambassador Shane Kingston at the launch of the eir GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship in Croke Park. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Big games for Cork teams in Munster championships

You could say the summers starts this weekend - the sun might even come out - with a number of Cork teams in Munster Championship action.

The footballers head to Killarney for their semi-final with old rivals Kerry, the hurlers open their championship campaign with a trip to Walsh Park, while the ladies footballers are also in Waterford for their opener.

Munster Senior Football Championship semi-final

Cork v Kerry in Fitzgerald Stadium Killarney on Saturday at 4pm

“The objective today was to win and get to the semi-final and that’s what we did. We were mindful of losing to Clare last year at the same stage.” Cork football manager John Cleary after the - what some would say - unconvincing win over Limerick.

“Well not for the first time this year we did not convert some, probably about five, of the goal chances we created. On another day that could be costly, especially against better teams.”

On the plus side, “when Limerick came back into for a period in the 2nd half, we responded well and finished the game as a contest and we also got a good impact off the bench which was important.”

John is well aware the task facing them in Killarney. “No doubt about it it’s a tough one. Kerry are among the top 3 in the country, but that is where we want to get and while it will be tough, it’s one we are really looking forward to.”

On the injuries: “Rory Maguire won’t make it, Killian O’Hanlon has an outside chance other that all the lads are okay and really getting ready for the challenge.”

Hard to believe it’s 1995 since we last won there and the last two visits to the venue have resulted in heavy defeats. On the plus side we ran the then All-Ireland champions close in the round-robin stage of the championship last year, even if it was down the Páirc.

Kerry had as Jack O’Connor described it an “alright league campaign apart from the Dublin game that is”, but operating at a higher level gives them an edge. Jason Foley and Brian Ó Beaglaoich are ruled out for Saturday but the remaining injury doubts are all in the mix.

Have they yet found an ideal replacement for David Moran in midfield an area where Colm O’Callaghan and Ian Maguire have excelled?

The big question is who, if anyone, can contain the Cliffords, although Kevin Flahive has generally done well on David. How Cork set up will be important.

After a poor start, Cork finished the league well and racking up 2-16 against Armagh, the most they conceded in the campaign was very positive.

The fitness of Conor Corbett is a plus, while Chris Óg Jones, Brian Hurley and the hard running Brian O’Driscoll and Sean Powter all impressed.

It is in many ways a free hit; they are not expected to win, but despite the doubters they can win.

Obviously they will need to produce their very best display in a long time, but you sense that Kerry are well primed for this one as it could very well be their last serious test before the real business begins.

When you consider that the final will be against Clare from Division 3 or Waterford from Division 4, you have to fancy Kerry.

The match is live on C103.

Munster Senior Hurling Championship

Cork v Waterford in Walsh Park on Sunday at 4pm

What an opening weekend in the Munster Hurling Championship - the league champions Clare v the All-Ireland champions Limerick in Ennis at 2pm, and in Walsh Park, a match that might just shape the season for Pat Ryan and Davey Fitz’s teams.

Contrasting leagues for both - Cork came within a point of making the semi-final but secured 1A status for next year, while Waterford had only 1 win against Offaly and will operate in 1B next year.

If we are to believe everyone it’s a foregone conclusion for Cork to win, ideally set up for a Waterford ambush, but as we all know, league and championship are poles apart.

Interest in the Deise County is lukewarm, and the newly renovated ground will not, as I understand sell out.

Waterford’s league was blighted by injuries to key players but the news is a bit better.

Tadgh De Burca and Stephen Bennett are expected to be fit, but injury does rule Peter Hogan and Ian Kenny out.

The league meeting ended in a 2 point win for Cork, who at one stage led by 10 points.

There is still a hard core of quality and experienced players in the team and they will relish the low key build up.

Patrick Curran, Callum Lyons, Mark Fitzgerald and Conor Ryan will anchor the side with intent.

Pat Ryan is well aware of the challenge that awaits. “No matter how the league went, this is different and we know Davey will have his side well primed for this game; they’re at home, written off so they have a point to prove.”

The importance of the match is not lost on the manager. “Okay it’s the first of four games, it won’t define your season but lose and you are under pressure straight away, and with Clare a week later, it’s a tough start.”

Since the last league game, an easy win away to Wexford, challenge and in-house games have gone well. “Played Galway twice and then a few A v B games which have gone well and thankfully the injuries have eased.”

A couple though will miss out: “Cathal McCarthy long term, Shane Kingston definitely out for Sunday, Deccie Dalton touch and go, all the rest okay.”

The composition of starting 15 will be interesting, in defence could a big name lose out, especially if as expected Mark Coleman gets the nod to start his first championship game in two years? Ciaran Joyce, the Downeys Eoin and Rob, Damien Cahalane, Ger Mellerick, Sean O’Donoghue, Niall O’Leary and Tim O’Mahoney - which 6 will front Patrick Collins?

Tommy O’Connell and Darragh Fitzgibbon look nailed on in midfield and the options in attack: Lehane, Barrett, O’Flynn, Horgan, Harnedy, Dalton, Connolly and Robbie Flynn - take your pick.

Ethan Twomey, Brian Hayes and Sean Twomey are others that could come into the equation.

The depth in the squad is very important; reflect on last year and the absence of a couple was clearly felt, that does not appear to be the case this season and with the schedule so tight, they will all be needed.

Whatever 15 is chosen they will need to be at their best from the off and only a consistent 70 minutes will suffice.

It’s a match that in my view is fraught with danger, everything points to a Cork win, but Waterford will someday deliver when least expected and they have done that, remember last year after 3 losses they beat Tipperary in Thurles.

I do think though that Cork will win, but the attitude and application will need to be right from the start, if it is they will get the result they crave.

As usual the match is live on C103.

Munster Ladies Football Championship

Cork v Waterford on Saturday in Fraher Field Dungarvan at 3.45pm

This game will now act as a curtain raiser to the Clare v Waterford Senior Football semi-final and that should certainly increase the attendance.

When the sides met in the league in Páirc Uí Rinn Waterford were comfortable winners, and by the time the league ended Cork were relegated to Division 2 for next year and Waterford by virtue of their win over Galway retained their Division 1 status.

Now with home advantage they will fancy their chances of repeating the league result and get the round-robin campaign off to the perfect start.

Cork are the holders but their job now is to refocus after the league disappointment and try and get a few wins under their belts to build confidence and where you finish in the Munster Championship dictates your position in the All-Ireland series.

There are good players on both teams: Katie Murray, Aine O’Neill, Kelly Ann Hogan and Clare Walsh were excellent in the demolition of Cork in the league and will look for a repeat.

As for Cork, they will be thirsting for revenge and hope that the likes of Libby Coppinger, Mellisa Duggan, Hannah Looney, Aoife Healy and Sabdh O’Leary can finally guide them to a badly needed win.

In the Munster B Championship, Cork play Kerry in Cloughduv also on Saturday with a 1pm start, and this competition should benefit all counties giving young players the opportunity to develop at a higher level with the aim to break into the top team in the years ahead.

Munster Under 20 Football Championship

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

Depending on how these teams got on in their 2nd round games, there could be a lot to play for in this the final game in the round-robin phase of the Championship.

Irrespective of how they fared against Kerry in round 2, Cork will be fancied to win this one, especially at home and with Clare having lost heavily to Kerry in the opening round. The new format will have brought them on and I expect them to advance to a Munster Final meeting with Kerry on 1 May almost certain to be in Tralee.


Having come through the group phase unbeaten, Cork now play Waterford in the All-Ireland Minor Championship semi-final on Sunday at 2pm in Kilcommon Cashel in Tipperary.

Ironically the only point they dropped was to Waterford in a game they could easily have lost.

Waterford had a good win over Tipperary last week to keep their ambitions alive and they were in the All-Ireland Final last year, losing to Cork.

Cork themselves had good wins on the road over Galway hitting 0-19 in the process and Tipperary and played well in difficult conditions when beating Kilkenny last Sunday.

Sarah Murphy, Ava McAuliffe, Amy Sheppard, Laura Dunlea, Rachel Murphy, Amy McCarthy and Emma O’Sullivan have impressed to date and hopefully a good performance will see them continue their unbeaten run and progress to the final.

Best of luck to all Cork teams!