VERY unusual to be writing at this time of year about the Munster Championship, but then again as we all know this is a very unusual year!
Hurling people love going to matches, giving their opinions, going for a pint after and discussing the rights and wrongs of the game, giving out about managers, but most importantly having the craic about it all. This is what people are really missing out on and believe you me that is a huge part of hurling.
We love to get passionate about it and maybe upset too. Clare and Limerick started the Munster Championship last weekend, a real local derby, but I have to say that was all missing. It looked like a glorified challenge match. Hurling needs supporters to create that real intensity.
A lot of people are saying it is great to have the championship going ahead, and it is good, but there is something sadly lacking. Well, it is what it is now, and we have to get on with it.
No better place to start than with two teams who have given us great entertainment for 20 years: Cork and Waterford.
They always seem to bring the best out of each other. Both have large followings, especially Cork, and they will be a big loss to the Rebels.
Nevertheless, both teams have a job to do on Saturday, and Kieran Kingston and Liam Cahill as well. It's a good draw, for both.
I'm sure that Cork will have a lot of last year's team, but the positioning of these players will be vital. Their defence has cost them big time. I'm sure Kieran and his backroom team have put a lot of work in with this area.
Full-back and centre-back have been weak links.
Corner-back Niall O'Leary had a good campaign for his club, as did Eoin Cadogan for Douglas.
He has the leadership qualities for that position, though he's out this weekend as he recovers from a back operation, and a fit Colm Spillane would add a lot too.
Cork will need more physicality across the half-back line. Damien Cahalane is more comfortable there and Robert Downey, after a great run with the Glen, should be six. He's very good in the air, and we could see a great contest against Austin Gleeson.
Another guy that would give them strength, aggression and size is Tim O'Mahony. All these guys are well over six feet tall and good athletes: a launchpad.
I believe Mark Coleman is better suited to a midfield role, where his score-taking and hurling ability would be a big advantage, especially now with Darragh Fitzgibbon absent through injury. Coleman would have a lot more freedom there.
Bill Cooper has been playing midfield for the last while, but I feel he would be of more benefit at centre-forward with his power. I also think a change of scenery would be a major benefit for Conor Lehane. He has class but perhaps from the middle of the field, with the great runs he could make, he'd regain his best form.
A man that Cork will be really looking to this year, and who has been brilliant for Douglas, is Shane Kingston. I know it's tough on Shane being the son of the manager, and tough on Kieran too which adds to the pressure, but he is one of the best forwards in the country on his day.
He is probably one of the fastest players around too and always seems to go for goals as well which is a great sign.
Add in Harnedy, Horgan and Alan Cadogan to this and you can see where Cork have great options up front and can do real damage if given the proper supply.
I believe the younger players are now maturing very well and will go to Thurles full of confidence. I think this championship will suit Cork.
They have a solid backroom team and a big panel of players. I believe they will beat Waterford, but it won't be easy. Kieran Kingston must know there is something in these players when he came back for a second bite.
Liam Cahill the Waterford boss, knows how to beat Cork teams as he has proven in the past at underage level with Tipperary.
Cork will need to be wary, especially with players like Austin Gleeson, Jamie Barron, Kevin Moran, Tadhg de Burca, Stephen O'Keeffe, the Fives brothers... a lot of experience there.
Hopefully, we will get a real championship game, something to get the blood pumping.