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Relatively quiet weekend on Leeside

Wednesday, 26th June, 2019 4:26pm

For the first time in weeks, apart from the intermediate camogie team, most Cork teams are having a weekend off but will be keeping a keen eye on events elsewhere.

In fact it is also the first time in three years that there will be no Cork involvement on Munster Hurling Final day, a strange feeling.

Hurling

Cork will have an interest in events in Croke Park in both the Joe McDonagh Cup Final and the Leinster Final.

In the case of the former, Laois play Westmeath and a week later Cork will play the losers in a preliminary quarter-final, with the Leinster side having home advantage. The expectation is that Laois, under Eddie Brennan, have made great strides and are fancied to win which would send Cork to Cusack Park Mullingar.

As for the Leinster Final, Cork, who will be expected to account for either Laois or Westmeath, will be playing the runners-up in a quarter-final.

This promises to be an intriguing encounter if the recent clash in Wexford Park is an indicator, where the draw ended Galway’s interest in the championship.

Wexford’s very structured game makes them hard to break down, but given the wide expanse that is Croke Park and that Kilkenny usually perform there, I have a feeling Brian Cody’s men might just prevail especially if TJ Reid maintains his excellent form of late.

The Munster Final could be equally fascinating as, for the second time in as many weeks, Limerick and Tipperary collide, this time at the Gaelic Grounds.

Many have the view that their meeting in Thurles resembled a somewhat phoney war, with neither side going full throttle, and while Tipperary emerged winners, they also suffered the loss of two key players.

Patrick 'Bonner' Maher is out for the rest of the championship, while tough defender Cathal Barrett is also missing this decider.

Tipperary will want to remain unbeaten and take the shortest route possible to the All-Ireland series.

Limerick won’t want to suffer a third defeat and be still in the race, and with home advantage and a full strength team I expect John Kiely’s men to prevail.

 

Football

In the immediate aftermath of last Saturday’s Munster Final, the disappointment was clearly etched on Ronan McCarthy’s face as he faced the media; clearly he felt they would win and offered no excuses.

Ronan also declined to comment on the performance of referee Anthony Nolan who, to say the least, fell way short of the standard required and indeed expected at this level.

Compare Nolan’s abysmal performance to that of Conor Lane in the Ulster Final. He was composed in control and firm when he needed to be, easy to see why he is among the top referees in the country right now.

Cork, though, will have to put Saturday behind them and focus on the next round where a win would see them into the Super 8s, and prove as well that they are not a one off team and can get up for any opposition - not just Kerry.

Ronan and his selectors will be keeping a watchful eye on the Round 3 qualifiers on Saturday in which their opposition will come from.

Form would suggest Mayo, Tyrone, Laois and Clare will prevail but home advantage will be a factor and usually a surprise result can emerge, and that could happen in Newbridge in the Kildare vs Tyrone clash.

The draw for Round 4 takes place on Monday morning, and for this stage of the championship, the games will be played at neutral venues.

The minors also played very well and were somewhat unlucky to lose by three points to a Kerry side that inflicted a 16 point drubbing when they met in the round-robin series a little over six weeks ago.

Players and management alike deserve immense credit for the huge improvement in the interim and they can now look forward to a quarter-final against the Ulster champions at the end of July.

If they can continue on an upward curve they could yet extend their season, and who knows, another meeting with Kerry could be on the cards.

Camogie

Having recorded an excellent win over Kildare last week, the Cork intermediate side head west on Saturday to take on an unbeaten Galway, and this is a big game for Cork.

A win would keep their ambitions of emerging from a tough group very much in their own hands and if Hayley Ryan, Stephanie Beausang, Laura Hayes and Ashling Moloney can re-produce their form of recent weeks they are well capable of winning, but the odds favour the home side.

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