Mark Coleman gathers possession ahead of Damien Cahalane and Jack Prendergast of Waterford during the loss to Waterford at Walsh Park in Waterford last Sunday. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Will Cork or Clare save their season?

The drama of the Munster Senior Hurling Championship, in comparison to its Leinster counterpart, was perfectly summed up by the events in Ennis and Walsh Park last Sunday. It means that both Cork and Clare are already on the back foot after one game, which adds extra spice to next Sunday.

Before that though, a busy and important few days ahead for Cork teams.

Munster Senior Hurling Championship

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

“Very disappointed but all we can do now is put it behind us, learn from it and focus on Clare next Sunday. It’s a huge game, a big crowd and I know they will get behind us as they have done before.” Cork manager Pat Ryan after the loss to Waterford last Sunday.

Clare lost to Limerick, probably in more worrying circumstances. The champions are a powerful team, but they were 9 points up at one stage, playing before a packed home venue and they ended up losing, conceding 3 goals in the process.

For both sides, Sunday is now a must-win encounter, and when you consider Cork must play Limerick at home and Tipperary away, could the season be over before May is seen out?

Clare have Waterford at home and must travel to Tipp. From Cork’s perspective, the first half was very poor. 8 wides, 4 in a row from pretty decent positions and the concession of a few soft frees were all factors. There was an improvement for the 2nd half, but credit Waterford anytime Cork got near then and even when they drew level, their response was excellent and over the 70 plus minutes they were deserving winners.

Playing with 14 and for a period 13 players did not help; 4 of the starting attack were replaced - how often have we seen that?

Now the conundrum for the management team is what 15 do we go with for this vital game, take a punt on some of the younger players or stick with the tried and trusted?

Defensively do Niall O’Leary, Tim O’Mahoney and Eoin Downey come into the equation? Will there be a new midfield pairing, although Darragh Fitzgibbon was excellent; 0-4 from play a good return.

Up front, Alan Connolly was by far the best on view, Shane Barrett next, and who else will occupy the selectors' thoughts? Are Declan Dalton and Shane Kingston fit to start, did Brian Hayes and Robbie Flynn do enough to merit inclusion?

What will Brian Lohan do? A few weeks ago they won the league and were everyone’s choice to topple Limerick, now he is in exactly the same position as Pat Ryan, although they were more consistent than Cork and only a late collapse cost them, but that is a worry.

Adam Hogan, John Conlon, Aidan McCarthy, David Reidy, Shane O’Donnell are all quality players and expect Tony Kelly to start.

Ahead of the game in Walsh Park, Pat (Ryan) said: “It will not define our season as we have two home games to come.”

Well the first of them is now upon on us and the outcome will define Cork’s season. Our record against Clare at home is very good, get the huge Cork support behind them, play with determination and spirit and we might get the win and then it’s the champions in 2 weeks time.

Summer has really arrived, Cork to win. The match is live on C103.

Munster Minor Hurling Championship

Cork v Waterford in Fraher Field Dungarvan tonight (Thursday) at 7pm

Having got their campaign back on track with an impressive win over Limerick in the last round, John Meyler’s side will be looking to keep on track for a place in the knockout phase of the Munster Championship tonight.

They will face a Waterford that despite defeat were very impressive against Tipp. Waterford also lost to Clare and will need a win.

The format is a strange one with 4 of the 5 counties advancing to the All-Ireland series, in either preliminary QFs or QFs; the top two will contest the Munster Final, so another defeat for them would in all probability end their season.

Waterford actually trailed Tipperary at one stage by 0-13 but cut the deficit to just 3 points.

In the victory over Limerick, Michael Tadgh Brosnan, Adam Lee, Cian Denis O’Connor, Mark O’Brien, Liam Kelleher and wing backs Kevin Beechinor and John Murphy who both clipped over long rang points.

Home advantage will help Waterford but if they maintain the improvement shown from the first game, Cork should prevail and remain on track for a possible place in the Munster Final with Clare on Leeside next week a potential semi-final.

Munster Under 20 Hurling Championship

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

With 20 minutes played against Clare last time out, Cork trailed by 7 points and looked in trouble, then the silly actions of the Clare manager ultimately got one of his players sent-off, and the course of the game changed.

Cork took over, quickly scored 1-2 and were in a much better position at half-time.

A similar slow start on Friday would be a worry although they are facing a Limerick side that have lost their first two games and are fighting to stay in contention.

They lost narrowly to Clare in Sixmilebridge, but were well off the pace in their loss at home to Tipperary, but they have good players in Donal Coughlan, Oisin Farrell (1-7 against Clare), Con Hayes and Mickey Fitzgibbon.

A Cork win will set them up nicely; it would guarantee them a semi-final spot ahead of the last round away to Tipp.

Ben O’Connor will demand a much better start and consistent performance.

Jack Leahy after a few early misses eventually found his range - his goal was top class, William Buckley has been excellent in both games as has captain Darragh O’Sullivan, while Kevin Lyons, Diarmuid Healy, Jamie Dwyer and Barry Walsh have also impressed.

If Cork get the start they are capable of they should win, but they got a tough test from Limerick last year. Expect the same this time round and hopefully the same outcome.

Munster Senior Ladies Football Championship

Cork v Kerry in Brosna on Saturday at 2pm

After enduring a very tough league campaign that ultimately ended in relegation and along the way a chastening defeat by Saturday’s opposition, Cork’s win over Waterford in round 1, who also beat them in the league came as a welcome boost for players and management.

It should put them in a good position as they travel across the county bounds to face their old rivals who themselves were comfortable winners over Tipp in Killarney last Saturday.

Katie Quirke’s return from injury and her 0-5 shows how valuable she is to the team, while Laura O’Mahoney, Libby Coppinger, Mellissa Duggan, Emma Cleary, Marie O’Callaghan, Sarah Leahy and Caoimhe Richmond put their league form behind them to register a morale boosting win.

Kerry will provide a much tougher test, but what manager Shane Roynane will look for will be another consistent and committed display as they plan for the bigger tests ahead.

The home side will be favoured to win and in the process secure a place in the final, but Cork will then look to win their final game at home to Tipp. You just get the feeling it will end up as a Cork v Kerry Final.

In the Senior B, Cork having beaten Kerry travel to Clare on Saturday.

Munster Senior

Camogie Championship semi-final

Cork v Clare in Super Valu Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday at 12

The ideal curtain-raiser to the big game on Sunday and the opportunity for both to get back on track after the league.

Clare were relegated to Division 2, and Cork conceded 2 late goals to Tipperary ultimately cost them a place in the final, in which Tipp emerged as winners, signalling that they will be major players when the All-Ireland gets underway. Cork, at least some of them, headed off a well deserved holiday and should be nice and refreshed as the business part of the season gets underway. They met in the league and it was a pretty drab encounter, Cork without being overly impressive always in control and won easily in the end. What 15 Cork put out will be interesting as it’s a game they should win and the expectation is that Tipp on the other side of the draw should make the final. Laura Tracey, Amy Lee, Amy O’Connor, Saoirse McCarthy, Laura Hayes, Ashling Thompson, Meabh Cahalane and Catriona Mackey should all feature as Cork will want to avoid a defeat like they endured to Waterford at the same stage and venue last year.

Footballers battled to the end

“We came down here to win and disappointed that we didn’t, should have been further ahead at half-time but that extra bit that Kerry had got them over the line.” John Cleary after the loss in Killarney.

Not many people gave the team a chance, they played well but especially in attack we need a bit more - Brian Hurley score 0-8 out of 1-12. The younger players will benefit from the experience, while Daniel O’Mahoney can be pleased with his effort on David Clifford.

On the injury front Maurice Shanley could be set for a spell on the sidelines, but Cathal O’Mahoney, Rory Maguire and Killian O’Hanlon should be back.

It will be 4 weeks before they play again. Last year Cork ended up in the quarter-finals after good wins over Mayo and Roscommon? Can they go further this year, the coming weeks will tell us a lot more at where Cork football now stands.