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Must win games for Cork teams

Wednesday, 20th February, 2019 4:50pm

It’s a huge weekend of activity with no fewer than four Cork teams in league action in various codes, and for good measure the Fitzgibbon Cup Final, UCC vs Mary I, is a very attractive encounter.

 

Cork vs Meath

A colleague of mine, who hails from the Royal County, suggested that this is a clash of the fallen giants of football and it will be interesting to see what the attendance will be in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday night.

The teams enter this game on the back of contrasting results in the last round, with Cork losing by nine points to Clare, while Meath were two goal winners over Armagh.

For all Cork’s difficulties, they only trail Meath, who lead the table, by three points, so a win would not only boost morale but would help in their battle to avoid relegation, and if results were to go a certain way, it might just might give them an outside chance of promotion - long shot I know!

Meath have always been tough to beat, but Cork did do just that last year in Navan. They will hope to reverse that result and will look to Conor McGill, Donal Keogan, Shane McEntee, Bryan McMahon, James McEntee and Bryan Menton to inflict more pain on a Cork team whose confidence must be low right now.

It’s been a tough few weeks for Ronan McCarthy and his team but the coach has vowed to work hard and is fulsome in his praise for the effort being put in by the panel.

Cork have a couple of players who featured in the Sigerson Cup on Wednesday night and will in all probability play in this game as well, while Cian Kiely’s form with UCC would make him an addition to the panel now that Liam O’Donovan is out with an injury.

The starting 15 will unlikely to differ from the team that played in Ennis. Mark White is nailing down the number one shirt and Ian Maguire, Ruairi Deane, Mark Collins, Tomas Clancy (Fermoy) and Michael and Brian Hurley could all start

Sean Powter is close to a return, while the experienced Paul Kerrigan might also start his first game of the league.

Whatever 15 takes the field, they will need to produce a consistent and committed 70 minutes in what is without question a must win game, and with Tipperary, Donegal and Armagh to follow, it doesn’t get any easier.

This match will be live on C103.

Cork vs Limerick

The last time these sides met was that dramatic afternoon in Croke Park when Limerick came from six points down to win. A short few weeks later they were crowned All-Ireland champions, ending a 45 year wait for glory.

Since then they seem to have grown in stature and the manner in which they easily defeated Kilkenny in Nowlan Park last Sunday would suggest that Cork will face another testing hour in the Gaelic Grounds on Sunday.

Both teams will have players involved in the Fitzgibbon Cup Final on Saturday, with Cork having four; Luke Meade with Mary I, and Shane Kingston, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Mark Coleman with UCC, which will once again shape the selection of John Meyler’s starting 15.

John Kiely has managed his squad well, ruling Aaron Gillane out as he plays in the Fitzgibbon Cup decider on Saturday, and with a host of regulars still to see game time, he will delighted that even with two games remaining they have already secured a quarter-final spot - whether that will dictate his team selection for Sunday remains to be seen.

What he will want is another win to maintain their good form and at the same time lay down a marker for the championship meeting in a few weeks.

Cork, having picked up their first brace of points last Saturday, will know that another win will give them a shot at a playoff spot, with Tipperary to come a week on Sunday.

One thing is certain, unless there is a better return from the attack, Cork will not win; 1-5 from play is a poor return.

Admittedly, a lot of the frees that Patrick Horgan expertly converted could have been scores anyway as the players fouled were in good positions, but I am sure John Meyler will look for more.

Alan Cadogan’s return is a boost and that will strengthen the attack, but a few more will hopefully step up in what is sure to be a tough hour.

The Gaelic Grounds is a hard place to get a result, and on recent evidence it will be just as hard on Sunday, which would indicate that a home win is on the cards, and as always, the game will be broadcast live on C103.

Camogie and Ladies Football

It should have been a historic double-header in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and a first for the Cork Ladies Footballers, but as we all now know that’s not the venue. Instead the game versus Tipperary will start at 5pm in Páirc Uí Rinn, the curtain raiser to the Cork vs Meath clash.

Cork lost their opening game but got back to winning ways against Westmeath last time out and should win this one as well.

Gort on Sunday is the venue for the Cork vs Galway Littlewoods Division 1 Senior Camogie game with the only matter to be resolved is who finishes top of the group, as both are already qualified for the semi-finals.

Cork will be without a few players, but given the strength in depth of the squad, they should maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

UCC vs Mary I

A real cracking game in prospect here on Saturday with quality players on both sides, with Luke Meade and Aaron Gillane key men for the Jamie Wall coached Mary I, who were champions two years ago.

Apart from the three Cork players already mentioned, UCC can call on Chris O’Leary, Niall O’Leary, Eddie Gunning, Jack Barry and Shane Conway who have all made important contributions in the campaign to date.

They looked on the verge of elimination in the semi-final against DCU, but the manner in which they kept their composure showed a desire that they are determined to land the coveted cup for 39th time, and a first since 2013.

Of course come Saturday they could also be chasing a double, as the Sigerson Cup Final was on Wednesday night, and while that result won’t alter their mindset, they look well equipped to win.

Harty Cup

For a variety of reasons it hasn’t been the best of months for Cork GAA but last Saturday in Páirc Uí Rinn was one of its better days and credit to all for making it such a unique and special occasion.

Congrats to the winners Midleton CBS and Rochestown College but bouquets also to CBC and Hamilton High School Bandon for the part they played on a memorable afternoon.

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