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Game On

Cork welcome Tipp for Munster opener

Wednesday, 8th May, 2019 4:36pm

It’s hurling most fabled rivalry and it has not diminished with time. When they meet on Sunday in Páirc Uí Chaoimh it will add another chapter to an enduring story.

Cork manager John Meyler is really looking forward to the game: “Ah sure look, it’s what we have been training for all year, the league gave us mixed results and we would have liked to get to the quarter-final, but overall I was happy.”

Meyler is also delighted that team captain Seamus Harnedy is free to play: “I'm thrilled, particularly for Seamus himself, it would have been very harsh had he missed out but it’s all behind us now and we have been focussed on this game for some time now, as have Tipperary I am sure.”

Liam Sheedy is back in charge of Tipperary for the second time but it’s a different championship to the last time he was at the helm.

“Well the same teams are in it but we are playing more often and for that we should be grateful. I watched the drama unfold last year and it’s great to be back involved,” Sheedy said.

The league ended in a quarter-final defeat to Dublin and that was a disappointment but Sheedy is confident they will have learned from that loss.

“Of course it was disappointing but it proved we still have a bit to do, and unless we perform to near enough to our maximum, we won’t win - especially against Cork.”

Continuing, he was fulsome in his praise for Cork. “They have proved to be the best team in Munster last year, going through the campaign without losing a game is some feat, so we know what to expect on Sunday.”

As for Cork captain Seamus Harnedy his focus is clear after being cleared to play: “It’s well behind me now, the preparation has gone very well, we are playing Tipp at home and we are the defending Munster champions and we want to start with a win.”

How important are the home games? The respective managers had similar views with Meyler saying: “Of course playing at home helps but it’s one game at at time whether it’s home or away.”

Sheedy’s take was not too dissimilar: “Look it’s a hard place to go but come Sunday at 6pm, whatever the result, we move onto the next game that is our job.”

The composition of the Cork team will centre on the defensive formation, while the attack has the addition of a fit again Alan Cadogan to bring an extra dimension to a potentially very effective unit.

Patrick Horgan, Conor Lehane and Harnedy did serious damage to most teams last year and are capable of doing so again.

Bill Cooper and Darragh Fitzgibbon will occupy the midfield berths and on their day are a match for and better than most.

So to the defence. Colm Spillane is a huge loss, the Castleyons player was rock solid throughout last season and will be hard to replace.

Anthony Nash, Mark Coleman, Sean O’Donoghue, and Tim O’Mahoney at number 6, will have pivotal roles.

Has Stephen McDonnell done and played enough to gain a starting spot? His experience is an advantage but will the selectors gamble on his match fitness in a game of this magnitude?

Consider the quality of the Tipperary attack: Jason Forde, Seamus Callanan, Noel McGrath and John O'Dwyer are classy and scoring forwards, something like what Cork possess, so it will be an interesting afternoon for both defences.

Tipperary will have been very disappointed at how last year's campaign fizzled out and their failure to make the top three prompted a change of management and they will be determined to avoid a similar fate.

As for Cork, they are champions, and with an incredible home record, one they will be keen to protect. Equally, they know that a defeat will make the trip to Limerick a week later, very tricky indeed.

Picking a winner is not easy, both their league campaigns ended poorly, but that’s past tense.

This time round the weather is better, hopefully, the pitch is better, hopefully, and it’s championship hurling so everything moves up a notch or two.

Given that it’s on Leeside, I am going for a Cork win, but only just, but then has there ever been much between these great rivals?

Waterford to win

Before Cork and Tipp is the meeting of Waterford and Clare in Walsh Park, a hard place to get a result, but will the defeat in the league final have an effect on the home side or will playing their first championship game at their own venue tilt the tie Waterford’s way? It just might.

Minor Championship

Cork vs Tipperary

The opening game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 2pm is also Cork vs Tipp, this time in the minor championship and the visitors come as reigning champions, while Cork will look to improve on last season's poor campaign, which saw them fail to make the final.

A number of players remain from that championhip, and the chosen team looks to be well balanced, and their form of recent weeks has been mixed, which is the same for most teams at this level so early in the season.

Cork can call on Cian McCarthy, Ethan Twomey, Luke Horgan, Colm McCarthy and dual player Jack Cahalane. There are a lot of factors at play in this game, not least the relatively young age of both teams, so whichever side can adapt quicker and better to what is sure to be a big occasion should win. Let’s hope that’s Cork.

Camogie

Cork and Limerick meet in two Munster Championship games on Saturday. The juniors meet at 2.30pm in Kilmallock, while at 7.15pm in Castle Road, it’s the senior semi-final, and the expectation is that Cork should win both games.

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