Assessing the Cork footballers' club form ahead of Division 2 promotion bid

Assessing the Cork footballers' club form ahead of Division 2 promotion bid

CORKERS: St Finbarr's Ian Maguire breaks from Castlehaven's Mark Collins during the Bon Secours SFC semi-final Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CORK football manager, Ronan McCarthy, must have been thinking the worst at the sight of his captain, Ian Maguire, and the Hurley brothers, Brian and Michael, hobbling off during Castlehaven’s sudden-death penalty shoot-out win over St Finbarr’s last weekend.

Already without wing-backs, Liam O’Donovan, from Clonakilty, and Fermoy’s Tomás Clancy, due to injury, the last thing McCarthy needed was more injuries ahead of the return to action on Saturday week, against Louth, at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Cork are expected in that game to secure the point they need to clinch promotion back to Division 2, with a game to spare, away to Longford, the following week.

Yet, less than 24 hours after watching the Haven clinch a place in the county final, against the holders, Nemo Rangers, McCarthy must have breathed a sigh of relief at the announcement of the postponement of all club games nationwide.

 Nemo's Paul Kerrigan is tackled by Duhallow's John McLoughlin. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Nemo's Paul Kerrigan is tackled by Duhallow's John McLoughlin. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

All four football finals in the Bon Secours championships — premier senior, senior A, premier intermediate, and intermediate A — are on the back burner, presumably until Cork’s season ends and that involves the county’s hurlers, too.

You can appreciate McCarthy’s state of mind, given that 15 players on his squad would have been involved in those four games and others would have been lining out with their clubs in the junior championships, as well.

Take the Nemo-Haven final as an example. Nemo supply a quartet of players to Cork, ranging from their goalkeeper and captain, Micheál Aodh Martin, to wing-back, Kevin O’Donovan, to Paul Kerrigan and Luke Connolly in attack.

Apart from the Hurley brothers, Haven skipper, Mark Collins, would also expect to face Louth, as injury forced him out of the earlier games, before lockdown.

Brian Hurley scores a point. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Brian Hurley scores a point. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

So, in all, McCarthy would have been looking at seven players slogging it out in a county final, six days before Cork’s resumption. Hardly ideal, is it?

And there would have been another quartet in the senior A final between Mallow and Éire Óg, who have a pair apiece in the county set-up.

James Loughrey and Mattie Taylor anchor down the Mallow defence, while Colm O’Callaghan and goalkeeper, Chris Kelly, represent the Ovens club’s interest with Cork.

The all-Duhallow premier intermediate final, between Knocknagree and Kanturk, would have Eoghan McSweeney and Paul Walsh on opposite sides, while Cathail O’Mahony would be a major player for Mitchelstown in the intermediate showdown with Rockchapel.

And the young Mary Immaculate College student showed his importance to the north Cork town’s prospects by shooting 2-5 in their semi-final victory over Aghabullogue last weekend.

The talented O’Mahony came off the bench to replace the injured Connolly in Cork’s last league appearance, the 3-13 to 3-11 win over Derry, and contributed 0-4 in the process.

Another youngster laying down strong credentials for a starting place against Louth is Damien Gore, who scored 1-3 from play in that game.

He was the star of Kilmacabea’s recent Carbery junior football triumph, helping himself to 0-8, and would have been involved again this weekend on the county trail, against the Avondhu representatives.

Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

And the junior hurling championship could also have impacted on Cork footballers, because of Maurice Shanley with Clon, the Carbery champions, who were scheduled to meet Kilshanning, for whom Killian O’Hanlon would be lining out.

A more encouraging note for Cork was the return from a serious hamstring injury of Ruairí Deane, one of the team’s on-field leaders.

The Bantry Blues player was injured in training in the build-up to the Derry game and had to withdraw, when Sean White, from Clon’, came in.

But, Deane has proved his fitness, helping Bantry retain their senior A status, overwhelming St Nick’s in the relegation play-off.

In all, Deane scored 2-10, including seven frees, just three points adrift of the team’s leading scorer, Arthur Coakley, who accumulated 1-16.

With the club scene now parked, it’s all eyes on the pending return of inter-county football the weekend after next.

The key date, of course, is the November 8 Munster semi-final showdown with Kerry, down the Marina.

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