THE leading All-Ireland hurling championship contenders have the weekend off while Cork, Dublin, Clare and Laois face make-or-break games.
There was a time when Cork would not be in that category, getting caught in the Munster opener, and instead would be preparing for an All-Ireland semi-final or quarter-final at the very least.
But, unfortunately, Cork have fallen off the wagon of leading contenders and the alternative route to the final day in Croke Park must be undertaken.
Sometimes the qualifiers can be of great benefit to a team, they give a team an ideal chance of re-grouping and get a win under the belt if the draw is favourable.
Unfortunately, this is not the draw Cork would have wanted, going in against a side that put up a stellar second-half display against Kilkenny before losing by a point.
Dublin hurlers have on many occasions promised much but in the final analysis have been unable to deliver.
In more recent times no county has fancied going up against them and we can go back to 2013 against Cork when Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s team were fortunate enough to beat them in Croke Park in the All Ireland semi-final.
That day a 66th-minute goal from Patrick Horgan helped Cork to a first All-Ireland SHC final since 2006, following a hard-earned 1-24 to 1-19.
This game had it all, according to the after match reports with the sides level on 15 occasions over the 70 minutes, with 18 different scorers, as both sides produced an epic encounter.
David Treacy bagged the only goal of the opening half in the 30th minute, but Cork led by 0-15 to 1-11 at the interval thanks to a Daniel Kearney point.
The sides were level on four times in the third quarter, and again with 11 minutes left on the clock, but Horgan’s late goal and the sending off of Ryan O’Dwyer for the Dubs provided the platform Cork required for victory.
The game had it all, drama from start to finish, a tremendous atmosphere to boot, with the attendance of 62,092 left on the edge of their seats throughout.
Only four of the Cork team that started against Waterford last Saturday played on the starting 15 that day seven years ago, Anthony Nash, Seamus Harnedy, Patrick Horgan and Conor Lehane.
A lesser amount of the Dubs team that lost to Kilkenny last weekend were on duty that August Sunday of 2013.
Cork had to dig deep that day to get the result and it’s almost a certainty that the same resilience that was exhibited will have to be replicated this time.
All week there has been fair flak pointed in Cork’s direction in the aftermath of the loss to Waterford.
Constructive criticism is fine but quite a lot of this social media stuff is over the top At the end of the day amateur players are being savaged and here’s one that believes that should not be the case Whilst Cork might have fancied a more favourable draw and the management might also have wanted another week to get injured players fit.
Then again, maybe this is a good thing, going in against a team that has to be given the height of respect after their display against Kilkenny. There certainly will be no complacency and let’s face it, there are very few teams around now that you could be complacent about in this championship.
This is the perfect chance now, seven days later for this Cork team to get that Waterford result out of the system.
Looking back too much never did anybody a lot of good. What’s done is done and now all the eggs are in this basket heading to face Dublin.
In his column in last Monday’s Examiner, Anthony Daly believed that Waterford wanted it a lot more than Cork did last Saturday.
And that is the crucial thing, in any sporting arena, you must want it more than the opposition.
That must be the objective for Cork against Dublin, they must simply want it more and when you want something you fight to the death for it.
The stakes could not be higher for both teams and both management teams in this game.
As far as the other qualifier is concerned, Clare get their second chance too against Laois and should be good enough.