Cork and Down renew rivalry
Allianz NFL semi-final Cork v Down Sunday Croke Park @ 4pm
A fourth meeting between these two teams since the All-Ireland Final of 2010, and Cork have won the previous three by 11, 12 and 13 points respectively, which, regardless of what Conor Counihan says, will make them favourites to make it to a fourth (Division 2 included) league final in a row.
Conor was honest in his assessment of the campaign to date. An inability to put a consistent 70 minutes together, a look at the results or the scoring periods will confirm this as well as the difficulty to breach packed defences.
At various stages last Sunday Dublin had 12 behind the ball and Cork’s lateral and ponderous play at times can be hard to watch.
Down, after a shaky start, have really delivered and produced some quality displays to earn their semi-final spot and players like Benny Coulter, Kevin Mc Kiernan, Ambrose Rogers, Mark Poland, Conor Laverty and Aidan Carr are quality players although they will miss the injured duo of Dan Gordon and Danny Hughes.
Cork are really good when moving the ball quickly and directly into the full-forward line where Donnacha O’Connor and Colm O’Neill thrive on good play and equally Aidan Walsh looks like he could be a threat at number 14.
Paul Kerrigan was back to his best and his pace will be a handful for any defence and it is this area that Cork have been good all through the league conceding just one goal to Donegal. Michael Shields has hardly put a foot wrong while Ray Carey, the tenacious Eoin Cadogan and Noel O’Leary are as consistent as ever.
The prospect of appearing in yet another final will surely appeal to all involved and the extra game will also help with Championship preparations on that basis I expect Cork to win, but only with a strong showing over the 70 minutes, mindful at the same time that winning runs against some teams always ends- remember Mayo last year -let’s hope it is not next Sunday.
Munster Minor Football Championship Saturday Gaelic Grounds @ 7pm
Cork v Limerick
A game that hopefully will be the beginning of a journey that ends in Croke Park in September as a victory in this Championship is very often the forerunner for greater success at a higher level.
It’s a first competitive outing for a team that has prepared diligently under Ephie Fitzgerald and how good it is to see a coach of his ability involved at this level. It can only benefit the players under his tutelage.
Cork will be favourites to win and while there is the fall back of a losers round they will want to take the direct route and with players like Kevin Crowley, Paul Fitzgerald, Cathal Vaughan, Stephen Cronin and a member of the under 21 panel Brian O’Driscoll in their team they should advance to the semi-final where Kerry or champions Tipperary are possible opponents.
Senior Football Championship
Four games in the second round of the Divsional and College's section of the championship all fixed for next Tuesday night, but may go back 24 hours depending on the result of the under 21 match last night.
Cloughduv is the venue for the clash of CIT and Carbery at 8pm and this with so many quality players on view should be a lively contest. Equally when champions UCC and Duhallow collide in Mallow at 7.30pm, a cracking game in prospect here.
Seandun face Beara in Bandon and Muskerry meet Avondhu, a venue for this game will be announced later in the week
Congratulations to UCC GAA Development Officer John Grainger who is the March winner of the 96FM/C103 GAA Sports Star of the month award in association with the Rochestown Park Hotel. It was a great month for the College with John playing a leading role in their hosting and winning of the Fitzgibbon Cup and also for his selection on the Fitzgibbon Cup Centenary Team. John will be presented with his award on Monday evening.