Sunday 22 September 2019

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Cork Independent


Cork set for double date at Croker this weekend

Wednesday, 10th July, 2019 4:45pm

The scheduling of these fixtures is grossly unfair on the Cork supporters - asking them to undertake two trips to Dublin in the space of 24 hours should not happen.

While I appreciate fixture making is never easy, how hard would it have been to wait until the pairings in both codes were known before actually making the fixtures?

It is not the first time it has happened, but that aside it’s certainly a burden that Cork supporters could do without. Sometimes I wonder do the body deciding these issues really care about supporters, showing more concern for finance then fans it would seem.

Cork v Dublin

“If you cannot look forward to playing the All-Ireland champions, then you should not be here.” The words of Ronan Mc McCarthy in the immediate aftermath of the win over Laois.

Certainly as a team they have come a long way since, the Sunday in April when their relegation to Division 3 was sealed.

The excellent form shown ahead of and then in the Munster Final, was maintained in the demolition of Laois, but Ronan and everyone else knows, the bar is been raised and the quality of opposition is on a much higher level.

Brian Hurley though said: “Ah look it’s great to be going back to Croke Park and what better way to be heading there, than a match against Dublin.”

On that score it’s very annoying to hear pundits and others say ‘Cork are in the Super 8s only because of wins over Laois and Limerick’; unfair on the effort put in by players and management since the start of the season.

Cork face a really tough challenge on Saturday night, with many people expecting Dublin to inflict a heavy defeat on a team for whom several will be playing in Croke Park for the very first time.

In that regard, there will probably be a bit more pressure on Dublin to perform although to their credit they have never failed to do us in their current reign as the dominant team in the country.

There was a blip during the league, suffering three defeats, but with ease they strolled to their ninth Leinster title in a row, and even if they were somewhat below par in the final, they still confined Meath to a miserly tally of just 0-4.

Jim Gavin has developed a squad and a system that is hard to break down, and they will be well aware of how to deal with what Cork will bring to the game.

Philly McMahon and Johnny Cooper will sit in front of the defence and cut off the supply to the Cork inside threat and in this regard it’s unlikely that Brian Hurley and Mark Collins will get the scope and freedom they enjoyed in Thurles last Saturday night.

The Castlehaven duo have been a revelation in recent outings and will test even the best that Dublin have in defence.

The strength of the champions is well documented and even in the expected absence of Johnny Cooper and James McCarthy, any team that can spring Dean Rock from the bench has serious quality.

From Cluxton out they ooze confidence and in Michael Fitzsimons, Brian Fenton, Ciaran Kilkenny, Con O’Callaghan and Cormac Costello they have players who are big match winners.

Ronan made the point after the win over Laois that ‘we have nothing to lose’ quickly clarifying that we are not going up to lose.

The confidence in the team is high and he expects a big display, he also said “we are now going to play at least six championship games and that can only be good for the development of the team, who are a very determined and committed group.”

There is only one change to the team with Tom Clancy (Fermoy) in for Kevin O’Donovan and James Loughrey going to right corner-back.

Liam O’Donovan, Mattie Taylor and Kevin Flahive have been excellent but this is the acid test. Equally Ian Maguire and Killian O’Hanlon if fit, are an effective midfield pairing while Ruairi Deane’s powerful running is a threat and Sean White works hard in his specific role.

The general view is that Dublin will win, and some suggest they will win with ease. I rarely go against a Cork team, but you have to say it will be a major shock is they do win, but what is needed and I am sure we will get a performance to build on for the remaining two games against Tyrone and Roscommon.

Cork v Kilkenny

“We came up here to do a job and we did, I am pleased with the 40 points and now we move on to next week and a huge challenge against Kilkenny, but that is where we want to be, at the business end of the season.”

John Meyler after the facile win over Westmeath as Cork face one of their oldest rival for the first time since the 2013 quarter final in Thurles.

John was pleased with the approach to last Sunday. “A few of the lads put their hands up for selection which is exactly what we wanted, competition for places, as we know it’s now a panel game and we have that available.”

Both have arrived at this juncture by differing routes, Kilkenny on the back of a three point loss to Wexford, Cork courtesy of a 23 point win over Westmeath.

Cody’s side are no longer the dominant team he once had at his disposal, but that will not make then any easier to beat, in fact the manner in which they lost the Leinster Final will have hurt, especially their decision making late on.

Several times they spurned the points that were on offer that could in the end have earned them a replay. They will not want a repeat and Cody will demand and expect a response.

They have been hit by injuries which has affected their form, with Richie Hogan and Walter Walsh not at their best and Colin Fennelly’s form has dipped - has the long season with club and county taken its toll?

Not so with TJ Reid; he remains their go to man with Adrian Mullen, Joey Holden, Padraig Walsh, Cillian Buckley and Conor Fogarty big players for the Cats who will relish the sight of the red jersey in front of them.

The composition of the Cork team will be interesting, especially the defence. Stephen McDonnell looks set to start, while Damien Cahalane and Chrstopher Joyce could feature if the selectors opt for physical presence to match what Kilkenny always bring to the big games.

Bill Cooper and Darragh Fitzgibbon would appear to be the preferred midfield pairing.

Shane Kingston, Conor Lehane and Aidan Walsh if fit are in contention for place in attack, as they lend support to the really in-form Patrick Horgan and Alan Cadogan.

Seamus Harnedy also remains a key player - he has been a bit subdued of late, but there is a big game in him and Sunday could be it.

Games between these great rivals are always hard to call, they generally take on a life of their own, but I fancy Cork to win.

Their best display all year was in the win over Limerick, when all the parts clicked into place. A similar display on Sunday and it is hard to see Kilkenny containing the Cork attack, which carries a bit more firepower and are not over reliant on one or two to get the job done.

As always best of luck to both teams and the games are live on C103.

Keep an eye on

In Clonakilty on Friday night at 7pm, it’s Cork v Waterford in the Munster U20 football semi-final, the Deise lads had a good win over Clare in the quarter final, but Cork enjoyed a good run in the John Kerins’ Cup and should prevail.

There are two camogie games in the Liberty Insurance All-Ireland Senior Championship. Cork should maintain their unbeaten run when they take on Meath in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday at 5pm.

On Sunday at 2.30pm, it’s Cork v Kilkenny in the All-Ireland Under 16 Championship in Castle Road, and one must surely question the scheduling of this game in direct opposition to the big hurling game between the same counties in Croke Park.

I often wonder are the Camogie Association really serious about promoting their games with this type of scheduling. They look for support in so many areas and then undo it all with a fixture like this – it beggars belief at times, and believe you me it has happened before and will again.

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