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Must win games for Cork teams

Thursday, 31st January, 2019 8:37am

While following on from the success of Cork schools in the Harty Cup, the focus switches to the Corn Uí Mhuirí semi-finals, and hopefully there'll be a similar outcome.

It’s a similar forecast for both sides, having lost their opening game - another defeat would in effect finish their chances of making the quarter-finals, and while that may not be the worst thing to happen, losing, like winning, is a habit.

Cork's concession of goals either side of half-time, effectively made the game safe for Kilkenny, but had Patrick Horgan’s shot late on not been saved by Eoin Murphy, it would have made for an interesting finish.

A concern would be that the Glen Rovers man bagged 0-10, 0-5 from play, Cormac Murphy in midfield scored 0-4, which leaves just a return of 0-3 from the remainder of the attack, a huge improvement will be required in this area.

Like last week, Cork’s team selection will be restricted with injuries and Fitzgibbon Cup commitments, and while this is not an excuse, it also affords others an opportunity to stake a claim for inclusion.

Alan Cadogan and Seamus Harnedy could return and that would be a boost as they would add considerably to an attack that didn’t really function in Nowlan Park. Not all the issues were in attack and the defence will be unhappy at the concession of some of the scores.

Wexford, despite the closeness of the score in the end, were comfortably beaten by Limerick, and even as they were shipping scores, Davy Fitzgerald is persisting with the sweeper system, and of course, Lee Chin is a big loss to the side. Home advantage and the need to win your home games should be enough for Cork to get over the line, but only if there is an all round improvement.

Draws were the order of the day for these teams last week, but Cork will feel it was a point dropped rather than gained as they were ahead deep in injury time, but a poor clearance allowed Fermanagh to snatch a draw.

It was a difficult game for Cork as the Ulster side had a very defensive set up, which was frustrating to watch, and the tally of 1-5 sums it up.

Kildare came from behind to earn a draw at home to Armagh, but they will present Cork with a different challenge as they will adopt a much different approach then Fermanagh did.

Ronan McCarthy had mixed feelings afterwards; frustrated but pleased at the approach and application of the team, especially when they had to play with 14 for over 35 minutes following Ruairí Deane’s dismissal, and the Bantry Blues player was playing well and working hard up and down the field.

Ian Maguire also impressed, while the defence as a unit was effective, even against a limited Fermanagh attack.

One other player who stood tall was goalkeeper Mark White - his handling and distribution were top class, and it looks like he will wear the number 1 jersey come championship time.

Mark Collins will almost certainly return having served his match suspension, Paul Kerrigan could also come into the equation and both would strengthen the team.

Kevin Feely is an injury doubt for Kildare, while Eoin Doyle, Ben McCormack, Jimmy Hyland and Fergal Conway will all feature for the Lily Whites.

This is an extremely competitive group and every point will count, the one that Cork picked up last Sunday could be vital, and a brace on Sunday will be a huge boost for the home side.

It’s Cork vs Kerry in both semi-finals, and given that the Kingdom schools have dominated the competition in recent years, the general expectation is that when the dust settles on Saturday’s games that it will produce an all-Kerry final.

That is not to suggest that Rochestown College and Clonakilty Community College will bend the knee easily.

Rochestown face Pobal Scoil Chorcha Dhuibhne, who were extremely fortunate to win their quarter-final as only a late goal saw them defeat St Flanann’s, and the Cork school will look to Sean Andrews, Alan O’Hare, Adam Cantwell and Conor Russell in a bid to break Kerry’s grip; tough ask but they could do it.

Clonakilty face competition specialists St Brendan’s Killarney and this is a difficult task but their coach Michael O’Sullivan has them very well prepared, and they will not be lacking in confidence. Cian Ryan, Brian White, Dan Peet and Ciaran O’Neill are big players for Clon and they are well capable of springing a surprise but it’s a tall order.

Venues for both games will be confirmed in the coming days.

Cork, having received a walk-over from Wexford last weekend, there will be no such problems this week as Waterford provide the opposition in Castle Road on Saturday.

A home win will be expected but the Deise girls have improved immeasurably in the last number of years and won their opening game, but they will probably be without the Gaultier players as they prepare for the All-Ireland Intermediate Club Final.

Cork had the majority of their experienced players on duty in the win over Tipperary, and with the same approach, they will be too strong for an emerging Waterford side.

The opening game of the Lidl Ladies Football National League will see Cork open their campaign on Saturday in Mallow on Saturday with a 1pm start with Galway providing the opposition.

Cork have enjoyed good league campaigns over the years, and while the focus will centre on the championship, they will be fancied to win this one, and with the double-headers with the footballers coming up in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in a couple of weeks time, they will want to build momentum ahead of those games, and they should.

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