Brian Hurley and Sean Powter celebrate after the All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 2 win over Donegal at Páirc Uí Rinn by 3-09 to 0-16. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

Cork's women in action against Clare and Laois

Camogie and ladies football take centre stage this weekend, while there is a very important minor football game on Saturday.

Given the intense activity of the last few weeks, the coming few days are somewhat quiet for the men, before it all kicks off again with big games for the hurlers and footballers.

The divisional and colleges section of the county championship also starts this week somewhat diluted by the withdrawal of 3 divisions: Beara and Imokilly in football and Carrigdhoun in hurling.

Glen Dimplex Senior Camogie Championship

Cork v Clare on Saturday in Cusack Park Ennis at 2pm

With 2 wins from 2, champions Cork are well on course for qualification to the knockout stages of the championship and with their main rivals in the group, Galway only drawing with Wexford, Ger Manley’s side look set to go direct to the semi-final.

They were comfortable winners over Down last Saturday despite making 5 changes, some enforced owing to injury, while it also afforded the management an opportunity to get valuable game time into players.

Ger was pleased. “It was a good win, especially after the long journey, 2-13 against the wind was impressive enough.”

There are still though areas to work on: “All the time and we will review that performance and work away on what needs to be done.”

Injuries are still a factor, “Laura (Tracey) might be back this weekend and Amy (O’Connor) picked up a slight knock so we left her off, but apart from Libby (Coppinger) who is out long term, everyone else is good.”

Clare are next up and Ger while confident is cautious. “We will take nothing for granted especially in Ennis. We will approach it like every other game, we want to win.”

It will actually be the 3rd meeting between the teams this year and Cork have won the previous 2, comfortably it must be said, the most recent in the semi-final of the Munster Championship in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

In their games to date, Clare beat Down in Ennis, but lost away to Dublin last week and will still feel they can make it out of the group and will relish the visit of the champions to their home patch.

Abby Walsh, Niamh Mulqueen, Grace Carmody, Aine O’Loughlin, Aoife Anderson and Caoimhe Cahill are among their better known players.

Cork though have depth and quality all over the field. Laura Hayes and Saoirse McCarthy have tremendous pace, while Ashling Thompson, Catriona Mackey, Amy O’Connor and Aoife Healy will give them a huge edge.

Cork to win and maybe even with a bit to spare.

Glen Dimplex Intermediate Camogie Championship

Cork v Offaly on Saturday at Castle Road at 2pm

The unexpected but deserved win on the road to a highly rated Westmeath side last week will certainly boost confidence ahead of the visit of Offaly in round 2.

Offaly were D1 last year and just like Cork opened with a win 1-18 to 1-8, admittedly against Clare’s 2nd team.

Grace Teehan, Cathy Fogarty, Clodagh Leahy and Leah Gallagher impressed in that win.

Lauren Homan was central to Cork’s win with a contribution of 0-10 from play and placed balls while Cliona Dooley and Cliona O’Callaghan chipped in vital goals with Katie Walsh and Niamh O’Leary also making important contributions.

Playing at home will help and they are well capable of getting another win.

TG4 All-Ireland Ladies Football Championship

Cork v Laois on Sunday in O’Moore Park Portaloise at 3pm

Playing this game immediately after the Laois v New York game in the Tailteann Cup is an excellent move and bouquets to all involved in this decision.

An opening game for both of these sides and it’s probably the match that will decide who will advance to the knockout phase with Galway the 3rd team in the group.

Laois, a bit like Cork, have endured a tough few months - relegated to Division 3 in the league for next season and then failing to win any game in the round-robin stages of the Leinster Championship although to be fair they were up against heavy hitters Meath and Louth.

Cork also had a disappointing league campaign but were much better in the Munster Championship with wins over Tipperary and Waterford and for long periods were very competitive in the final before eventually with crucial goals Kerry got the win, their first since 2017.

Shane Roynane will obviously take huge encouragement from that display but the loss of dual player Libby Coppinger is a blow even more so when you factor in the experienced players that are no longer available to him.

Katie Quirke has been a revelation since her return from injury bringing new impetus and scoring power to the attack; add in Melissa Duggan, Dara Kiniry, Laura O’Mahony, Sabdh O’Leary, Abbie O’Mahony, Maire O’Callaghan and Emma Cleary - all excellent players.

Laois will look to Eimear Barry, Mary Cotter, Andrea Moran, Orla Hennessy and Emily Lacey to endeavour to get their first win of the season.

Home advantage might help them but the odds favour Cork who should win and set it up nicely for the visit of Galway to MTU on Sunday week.

Electric Ireland Minor Football Championship QF

Cork v Mayo on Saturday in Cusack Park Ennis at 4.30pm

“Never saw this coming I must say, we played very well in Quilty and trained exceptionally well coming into this game so I just cannot put my finger on it.”

The very honest assessment by Cork minor football manager Michael O’Sullivan after the Munster final defeat to Kerry in Páirc Uí Rinn.

It wasn’t just a defeat, it was a hammering and when you consider that in the QF played in Tralee, the winning margin had been just 2 points, while in the final it had stretched to 15 points, and Cork’s goal from a rather soft penalty arrived deep in added time.

The other worrying aspect of that result was the gulf in class between both teams while physically also Kerry were way ahead and their execution of skills was also much better.

Was it a once off, did Kerry hit a purple patch, did Cork hit a bad day? Well we will soon find out.

Michael did add: “Look these lads work very hard in training and like us all are hurting tonight, but the season is not over. We have a few weeks to get it together again prepare as best we can for the Connacht winners.”

Mayo have always been strong and competitive at this grade; they went through the Connacht Championship unbeaten culminating in a 0-14 to 0-10 win over Roscommon in the final.

Tom Hession, Mark Noonan, Josh Moyles, Owen Loughney, Kobe McDonald and Oisin Deane were impressive and consistent performers in their campaign and on the back of their unbeaten run, will face into this game in confident mood.

What of Cork, will they change their team or will they put their faith in the regulars to produce a big performance when it is badly needed to rescue their season?

Joe Mouret, Danny Miskella, Dylan O’Neill, James O’Flaherty, Cathal McCarthy and Harry Cogan are good footballers, but a huge display is required and of course a much better scoring return, 1-6 is not going to win any match. If that happens, they could spring a surprise and win.

Footballers deliver

Last Saturday was as good an occasion we have seen in Páirc Uí Rinn for some time; sun shining, large vocal Cork and Donegal support and in the end a win and a vital one for John Cleary’s side.

The manner of the win was also very encouraging, as late on Donegal having drawn level looked likely winners, but Cork stuck to the task, not for the first time overturned possession and clipped over the match winning points.

It will probably rank as one of their best wins at home in a long time; remember Donegal had not lost a game all season, and the after match reaction, rare enough with football, was a joy to see.

However, just like the hurlers, the job is only starting, I’m sure they enjoyed the night, but the focus has already switched to Tyrone, they were back training on Monday, there’s a lot at stake.

A win or a draw will see them directly into the QF and a two week break; finish 2nd and it’s a home preliminary QF; finish 3rd and it’s an away game and on successive weeks.

The other carrot is group winners are seeded in the QF draw, which could see you avoid Dublin, Kerry and Galway who look like winning their groups.

The decision to play the Tyrone game as a double header with Cork v Offaly or Laois hurling game on Saturday 15 June with football game at 3pm, is also a welcome one, so it’s Portlaoise or Tullamore our next road trip.

It’s a far cry for losing to Cavan in the National League, a 3rd loss on the bounce. Since then the only reverse has been to Kerry in Killarney, and that includes a draw with Armagh who featured a lot of the players that demolished Derry last weekend, so the players and management are moving in the right direction, pointing to a thrilling few weeks ahead.

There’s one game in the divisional and colleges unseeded section of the Co-Op Super Stores County Senior Hurling Championship. It’s Carbery v Duhallow in Coachford on Tuesday next at 7.30pm.