'We're honoured to be representing Cork in hurling during times like these'

'We're honoured to be representing Cork in hurling during times like these'

The Cork fans that packed Thurles for previous matches against Waterford will be missing this weekend. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

IT'LL be a Munster championship unlike any other they've experienced when the Cork hurlers head to Semple Stadium on Saturday afternoon to face Waterford.

The Rebels take on the Déise in a provincial semi-final at 3.45pm, live on Sky Sports, looking to secure a berth in the decider against the winner of Tipperary and Limerick, which takes place in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday.

Cork manager Kieran Kingston, back at the helm for his first championship match since the All-Ireland semi-final loss to the same county in 2017 at a heaving Croke Park, believes the players will have to adapt quickly to the unusual circumstances with no fans.

"There's no doubt players feed off the crowd when they run out onto the pitch or their support when you do something well... that has changed. We're part of a special group though as we're allowed play. We're honoured to be able to represent our county in the times we have.

"We've seen the minors and the U20s cancelled so all inter-county teams have to embrace the change. We won't know how different it'll be until next Saturday but we've to adapt to that.

"Nobody wants to give up a year of their career so it's a special season no matter what happens."

Cork will announce their starting 15 and nine subs at 9.30pm on Friday night, with Darragh Fitzgibbon and Eoin Cadogan out through injury, Robbie O'Flynn suspended, and Deccie Dalton a major doubt too.

Patrick Horgan will captain the side, with Colm Spillane back available after a hand injury.

"Every player respects the positions we're in and in the year that's in it, it's a particular honour to represent the county. For us to be able to come together to for ourselves but also the GAA people around the county in an extraordinary year makes it even more so." 

Last weekend's opening games between Dublin and Laois and Clare versus Limerick were criticised for being too quick and high-scoring.

"There has been talk about the scoring, about the speed of the puck-outs, but for me and many more it's the best field game in the world. There are many components to making it that good. I think two of those are scores and the speed of the game. When we don't have the crowds this year we must create that spectacle as best we can. 

"When we get into November and December the game will slow down a bit due to the weather so I don't see we should contribute to that, just because we'd two games that were very high-scoring last weekend."

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