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Must win games for Cork teams

Wednesday, 4th November, 2020 2:54pm

In all there are four Cork teams in action over the weekend and for two, the senior hurlers and footballers, it’s knockout championship with no room for error. Lose and this strangest of seasons will finally end in November.

Football

Cork vs Kerry

It’s the third year in a row that these age old rivals will meet in the Páirc, but this will be so different with an empty stadium and no atmosphere, and of course a Sunday in November rather than in July.

How will that affect the game? Not a lot is the view of Cork manager Ronan McCarthy who said: “Well it won’t phase Kerry, they have won here in the last two years.”

McCarthy says it’s a big match for Cork in their development, but in terms of extending their season. “It’s been a few years now since we have beaten one of the top teams in the country, and if we are to improve and develop as a team, that is something we need to reverse.”

As for the Longford game being conceded, McCarthy was disappointed: “Well it devalued the league in my opinion and we lost valuable game time. We just moved on and got in some training as well but we were looking forward to finishing the campaign and showing the league the respect it deserved.”

McCarthy knows they face a really tough task on Sunday. “Kerry are one of the top teams, league champions and were in the All-Ireland final last year, but this is what you train for all year and we are looking forward to the game, even in these strange times.”

Injuries have not helped, and a number of players are touch and go if they will make the game, among them Sean Powter and Brian Hurley, but they will be given every opportunity to prove their fitness.

The other factor is that while Cork cruised in winning the Division 3 title, Kerry were very impressive in winning the Division 1 crown playing against the top teams, playing the game at a higher pace and intensity that Cork are not accustomed to, and that gives Kerry a decided edge.

Cork will need to be at their very best, especially in defence, which at times conceded soft scores against Louth, and they will be punished by an attack that apart from David Clifford, can call on quality players in Tony Brosnan, Paul Geaney if picked, Sean O’Shea, Gavin White and Peter Crowley.

Midfield will hold the key and if Cork can at least break even here they have good forwards capable of troubling any defence including Luke Connolly, Mark Collins, Paul Kerrigan, and if fit, Brian Hurley, while the pace and drive of Ruairí Deane is important.

Ian Maguire and possibly Brian Hartnett in midfield have key roles to play fronting a defence that should include Mattie Taylor, Kevin Flahive, Kevin O’Donovan and Cian Kiely.

The fact that for long periods Cork troubled Kerry last year will have the Kingdom on full alert and it’s hard to see them losing. But in a one off game anything is possible as Cavan proved when turning over Monaghan.

Can Cork do something similar? Let’s hope so.

Hurling

Cork vs Dublin

“Very disappointed and no complaints, the better team won.” That was Kieran Kingston’s immediate reaction after the four point loss (if felt like a lot more) to Waterford last Saturday.

A week later, they return to Thurles and face a Dublin side who put in an incredible second half in their one point loss to Kilkenny, having trailed by 3-13 to 0-7 at half-time. They outscored Cody’s men by 2-15 to 0-7 in the second half but came up just short.

It’s easy to see which team has momentum going into game.

Not only is this a season-defining game for Cork, it probably is a career-defining game for some players; another defeat and there could well be a clear out when they gather next year.

So many Cork players underperformed, the exceptions being Mark Coleman, Shane Kingston and Patrick Horgan. Others were marginally better, but when you replace four of your starting six forwards, you know you are in trouble.

A few players were absent, Darragh Fitzgibbon a huge loss, and the late defections of Colm Spillane and Aidan Walsh did not help but Kingston was not offering that up as an excuse.

This will be Dublin’s third game and that will help as will the form of Donal Burke who’s hit 1-28 in his last two games. Eamonn Dillon, Chris Cummey, Daire Gray, Liam Rushe and Danny Sutcliffe are other players to watch.

The composition of the Cork team will be interesting. Spillane and Walsh could return, but what will be more important will be the response to Saturday’s poor display. It’s time for leaders to deliver.

If there is not a response, Cork will lose. If there is, especially in terms of workrate and resolve, then they will win. It’s a big ask but one they are capable of delivering. Both Cork games will be live on C103.

Camogie

Cork vs Galway

Having finally got their Liberty Insurance Championship campaign underway with a win over Wexford, Cork now head to Pearse Stadium in Salthill on Sunday for a meeting with the reigning champions Galway.

The one consolation is that both sides have actually ensured they will advance to the knockout phase of the championship, and the result of this game will determine who gets the semi-final spot on offer. The losers get a place in the quarter-final.

Given that they have only played one game - Offaly gave Cork a walk-over - getting to the quarter-final might not do Cork any harm as it would provide the team with an extra game. Of course, with it being so late in the year and with weather conditions deteriorating, less might actually be better.

Cork were not that overly impressive in the win over Wexford, but they got the job done and several players did impress. Amy O’Connor took her two goals very well, Ashling Thompson worked hard in midfield, Orla Cronin was unerring with her free taking, while Laura Treacy, Chloe Sigerson and Catriona Mackey all made important contributions.

Galway demolished Offaly and really look the team to beat in this championship and in Niamh Hannify, Aoife O’Donoghue, Orlaith McGrath and Ailish O’Reilly, they have talented players.

A further complication for Cork is that five of Paudie Murray’s side will be in action on Saturday with the Cork ladies footballers in their championship clash with Kerry, and that will take its toll which should tilt the game in Galway’s direction and send Cork into the quarter-finals.

Ladies Football

Cork vs Kerry

The meeting of these two sides is a huge clash, more so for Cork as the Kerry ladies have played and won convincingly in their opening game against Cavan.

It’s been a while since Ephie Fitzgerald’s side had a competitive outing, but the majority of the squad performed exceptionally well in the county championship, which was won by West Cork Ladies.

Cork, though, are a very good team and they will make light of the difficulties of having not played and they will enjoy the challenge this encounter will provide them with.

Kerry have improved a lot in recent years and the win over Cavan will give them a boost, especially the form shown by Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh and Siofra O’Shea who, between them, racked up 5-14.

Orla Finn, the O’Sullivan sisters from Mourneabbey, Martina O’Brien, Orlagh Farmer, Aine Terry O’Sullivan and a quintet of dual stars should make this a winning start for Cork.

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