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Cork Independent

Game On

A lot at stake in Ennis

Wednesday, 12th June, 2019 4:15pm

The final series of games in the Munster Championship on Sunday will determine who goes where for the rest of the summer.

Waterford are eliminated, Limerick and Tipperary have ensured their season will extend into July, with Cork and Clare battling it out for the last spot.

Well not exactly, but it feels like it. Cork can, with a win, still qualify for the Munster Final if Tipperary beat Limerick.

There are of course various permutations surrounding the fixture, but to simplify, Cork control their own destiny and a win or draw keeps them in the mix.

Manager John Meyler said as much after the win over Waterford: “I'm delighted with the win, now we go to Ennis on Sunday needing another big result to get into the top three in Munster.”

Meyler was pleased with the display: “Look it was a strange game, Waterford to be fair battled away, but we got the job done and the lads applied themselves well.”

The contribution of the substitutes was impressive: “Shane (Kingston), Conor (Lehane) and Tim (O’Mahoney) all scored and that’s want we wanted to do strengthen the panel and have competition for places.”

He also acknowledged Ennis is a tough place to go. “It is but that is what makes this championship, we will prepare properly and look forward to it.”

By contrast it’s been a difficult week for Clare, a fact acknowledged by joint manager Donal Maloney in the immediate aftermath of the loss to Limerick: “It's a tough week and we will just have to see how the lads react but we are at home and we still have a chance, but it’s not been easy.”

The manner of that defeat surprised many, as over the years Clare have always raised their game when playing their nearest rivals and neighbours. In truth they were blown away by the ferocity of Limerick’s play, it was with an intensity that they could not match, and their big name players, Tony Kelly, John Conlon and Shane O’Donnell were anonymous for the 70 odd minutes.

It was the second game in a row that they capitulated; the defeat to Tipp a week earlier equally worrying and that game was in Ennis.

Can they pick it up for Sunday? Expect a response, but it’s a third week in row playing, will that be a factor?

There is bound to be a reaction from Clare, quality players don’t become bad ones overnight, but how is their confidence? It must be low and the body language coming of the field last week was not good.

The lack of support in Limerick last Sunday was also noticeable, sure it will be better in Ennis, but their style of play does not sit well with some.

Cork were comfortable in the win over Waterford, and while it was not the greatest of games, there was never any danger that they would lose.

Waterford’s troubles off the field were well documented but in fairness they played with spirit and made it uncomfortable at times and John Meyler will address the issues in their preparation this week.

What Cork did do was, whenever Waterford threatened, they responded immediately. After conceding the first goal, Cork got the next five points, similarly with the second goal, three quick points followed.

Niall O’Leary, Mark Coleman and Mark Ellis were solid in defence, as ever Bill Cooper and Darragh Fitzgibbon were effective in midfield, while in attack Patrick Horgan, Alan Cadogan and the industrious Luke Meade all made invaluable contributions.

There is no doubt this will be a tough test but one Cork are well capable of passing. The form is good, the work rate is top class and if attitude is right and I have no doubt it will be, Cork will win and determine their own fate in the championship irrespective of the result from Thurles.

The Tipperary vs Limerick clash in Thurles has the makings of a cracker and the approach that both sides will adopt should be interesting.

Liam Sheedy will want to maintain their unbeaten run, especially in Thurles, and will not want to give Limerick an edge if they are to meet again in a Munster Final in a couple of weeks time.

Equally, when I spoke to John Kiely at the Munster Championship launch, and he made no secret of his desire to improve their record in Munster, in a strange way they are chasing a hat-trick of sorts, All-Ireland title, National League title and a Munster title all in the space of eight months. It would be some haul.

Hard game to call, but a slight fancy for Tipperary, purely on the basis that they are playing at home.

Minors

The same pairings are involved in the minor championship with Cork and Limerick best placed to make the final as only two teams advance from this grade.

Cork have five points, Limerick and Clare four, while Tipperary on two points have a very slim chance of making the final, but they must beat Limerick to have any chance of progressing.

Limerick and Cork have looked the best of the teams that I have seen to date, but it’s also fair that Cork have yet to produce the quality they delivered in dismantling Tipperary on opening day.

On the plus side, in the games against Limerick and Waterford, when required, they did enough to remain unbeaten.

As with John Meyler’s side, a win or a draw will do the minors, and with Cian McCarthy, Ciaran Joyce, Luke Horgan, Ethan Twomey, Paul O’Riordan, Jack Cahalane and Darragh in good form, they look well equipped to get the job done.

Camogie

Fresh from completing a clean sweep of Munster titles in the last number of weeks, the Cork senior and intermediate teams begin their All-Ireland campaigns on Saturday.

The seniors make the trip to Sixmilebridge to face Clare and should not encounter too many difficulties in this opener.

Aoife Murray, Gemma O’Connor, Leanne O’Sullivan, Orla Cotter, Linda Collins and the Mackey sisters, Catriona and Pamela, are experienced enough to ensure there is no complacency.

It's a different story for the intermediate team as they face Kilkenny in Castle Road, and with a completely new team as a result of winning the All-Ireland last year, they will really be tested by the Leinster side.

Stephanie Beausang, Ashling Moloney, Hayley Ryan, Nora O’Riordan and Rachel Harty will all feature on a side that will really have to be at their very best if they are to cause an upset.

Ladies Football

Fraher Field in Dungarvan on Sunday at 6.30pm is the venue for the Munster Senior Final with Cork facing Waterford.

Given that when the sides met in the round-robin series a few weeks ago, when Cork were convincing winners and given that in the interim Cork hammered Kerry, this looks like been another title for Ephie Fitzgerald’s side unless Waterford spring a major upset, but that’s unlikely.

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