Cork's hurling rivals have a head start coming into the Munster championship

Cork's hurling rivals have a head start coming into the Munster championship

Cork manager Kieran Kingston, left, and Cork selector Diarmuid O'Sullivan watch as Mark Coleman of Cork prepares to take a sideline cut against Waterford in 2017. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

THERE is a perception that when Cork take on Waterford in the Munster hurling championship at the end of October they will be at a disadvantage insofar as Waterford’s preparation time for the game will have been much greater.

In fact, all the other Munster counties will be in a similar situation with three of the five county finals, Waterford, Limerick, and Tipperary having already been completed thus freeing up the players from those counties to be wholly concentrated in inter-county preparation.

Clare will join that list tomorrow when Sixmilebridge take on O’Callaghan’s Mills.

The Cork final will take place the following Sunday and we will know the contestants for that game tomorrow night.

So are Cork going to be at a disadvantage because of the later finish to their championship?

One does not think that they will. It’s not a case of the Cork players lying around idle and doing nothing.

Those players that are still involved with their clubs are still putting in the hard yards on the training ground while those whose club season has ended are back in the Cork camp anyway.

Kieran Kingston and his management team will still have a full month with their players before they face Waterford and that will surely be adequate time.

No doubt, they’ll get in a challenge game during that time even if sometimes those games are worthless.

Kingston and his fellow management members have been conspicuous at club games since the commencement of the championships and with regard to studying the form of their own players and others, they are leaving no stone unturned.

No doubt, a few players have caught the eye, Michael O’Halloran’s excellence against Douglas and maybe Anthony Spillane for Castlelyons last weekend against Courcey Rovers to mention just two.

There are probably others too who have come under the spotlight and while the starting 15 for the game with Waterford is unlikely to be changed a whole pile since last season, the management might have a surprise or two.

Over the past couple of weeks we have been keeping a close eye on things in the other Munster counties, the finals, in particular, and with the exception of the Tipperary final last Sunday, they have been very lopsided, Ballygunner against Passage in Waterford and Na Piarsaigh against Doon in Limerick.

The Tipperary final was a classic and the conclusion to the game was unbelievable with Kildangan snatching their first title right at the final whistle in extra-time.

It was extraordinary the way it panned out, ecstasy and agony never more graphically illustrated.

The Clare final tomorrow has huge potential with O’Callaghan’s Mills seeking a first title in a lifetime.

Gerry Cooney of O'Callaghan's Mills in action against Marty O'Leary of Ballyea. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Gerry Cooney of O'Callaghan's Mills in action against Marty O'Leary of Ballyea. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

The following Sunday we’ll have our final down in Pairc Ui Chaoimh with the strong possibility of an all-city showdown between the Rockies and the Glen.

That, of course, is far from being a certainty with Erin’s Own and UCC having their own legitimate ideas.

On Sunday we will have the Kilkenny final to have a look at on the video recorder between Ballyhale-Shamrocks and Dicksboro.

All the county finals will be done and dusted by Sunday week and that will be it for the club players only until next season again.

There are no plans for a provincial or All-Ireland club championship and that’s a pity because those provincial games take on a life of their own A good friend of mine suggested to me this week that the county title winners should have had their season extended if at all possible.

He suggested not having the provincial championships at all but instead having an open All-Ireland club championship featuring the five county winners from Munster and Leinster and the Galway champions.

Not a bad idea at all, but how would it be practical given how condensed the season already is.

After all, the All-Ireland hurling final is scheduled for December 12 or near that date so it would be very difficult to fit in the aforementioned suggestion.

But what a competition it might be if it did happen, could you imagine the Glen or the Rockies or whoever facing Ballyhale in the first round of an open All-Ireland club championship.

There would be huge potential in all the games and it would give club players only great exposure.

It’s just a thought in this strangest of seasons even if it won’t be happening.

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