CORK welcome back a handful of players for their first start in Division 3 against Louth at Pairc Ui Chaoimh tomorrow at 4pm.
There are seasonal debuts for Kevin Flahive (Douglas), Kevin O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers), Colm O’Callaghan (Éire Óg), Paul Walsh (Kanturk) and Kevin O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs).
There’s almost a second team of players missing through injury, including Ciaran Sheehan (Éire Óg), Liam O’Donovan (Clonakilty) and Tomas Clancy (Fermoy), who won’t play again in 2020.
Among the many others unavailable are James Loughrey (Mallow), Sean Powter (Douglas), Sean White (Clonakilty) and leading scorers Cathail O’Mahony (Mitchelstown) and Luke Connolly (Nemo Rangers).
The anticipated return of Castlehaven pair, Mark Collins and Brian Hurley, hasn’t materialised though the former is among the substitutes.
There are three survivors in defence from the Derry victory in March, Maurice Shanley (Clonakilty), Paul Ring (Aghabullogue) and Mattie Taylor (Mallow).
Captain Ian Maguire (St Finbarr’s) has a new midfield partner in Walsh with Killian O’Hanlon (Kilshannig) diverting to centre-forward in a much-changed attack.
Damien Gore (Kilmacabea) and Paul Kerrigan (Nemo) are the only links from the 3-13 to 3-11 success.
There’s a welcome return from injury of Ruairi Deane (Bantry Blues), who was selected for the game but had to cry off with a serious hamstring injury.
The bench has a couple of newcomers in Daniel O’Mahony (Knocknagree), Niall Hartnett (Douglas) and Jack McCarthy (Carrigaline).
Meanwhile, for Croke Park this must feel like the end of the longest week as the country awaits the return of inter-county action over the weekend.
The concluding games in all four divisions are scheduled to be completed by the following weekend before the championship gets underway.
But, as with the way of the world in these precarious times, the threat of Covid-19 still hangs menacingly over everything never mind simply sport on its own.
It was a nervous few days for all before Kerry made the long trip to Inniskeen to play Monaghan at 2pm today in the opening game of round 7 fixtures.
And by the time referee Jerome Henry blows the final whistle to signal the end of the Donegal-Tyrone tie shortly before 5.30 tomorrow, everyone will let out a huge sigh of relief if the planned programme is wrapped up without a hitch.
There was an early casualty in division 4 with London unable to fulfil their game against Waterford in Dungarvan so the Deise were awarded the points.
But, the GAA announced recently that no team would be relegated if a game had to be postponed because of the pandemic.
Division 4 is different in that it’s the bottom tier and relegation doesn’t apply, but the decision could have repercussions in the other three sections.
Take the Clare-Fermanagh tie, scheduled for Cusack Park in Ennis on tomorrow at 1pm, as a prime example.
The Ulster county prop up the table with just two points from their five outings and must win their remaining two games to have any chance of surviving.