Cork footballers will be cutting the panel as injured players return to action

Cork footballers will be cutting the panel as injured players return to action
Mark Collins, Cork, getting in his pass away watched by Donagh Leahy, Tipperary during their McGrath Cup match at Mallow. Picture: Dan Linehan

CORK'S football panel will be trimmed next week, according to coach Ronan McCarthy.

The division 3 leaders don't play again until travelling to play Tipperary in round 4 in Thurles on Saturday night week at 7pm.

Cork have nearly a full squad available again though Kevin Crowley's shoulder injury, sustained in the win over Down last weekend, is a cause for concern.

“We're at a point now where we are going to be cutting the panel next week,” he said.

“We've nearly everyone back at this stage apart from Kevin at the moment.

“Certainly in the next two weeks we'll have Brian Hurley, Mark Collins and James Loughrey available again.” One player who hasn't figured this season is Knocknagree's Eoghan McSweeney.

“He was injured at the start of pre-season and has taken a while to come back to full fitness. He's only back in full training a few weeks.

“The reality here is that there are loads of players all vying for positions.

“It's even difficult now picking 26 players never mind the 15 and it will be even more difficult for the next game against Tipperary because of the returning players,” McCarthy added.

The competition for places in attack is intense and likely to be even more razor sharp in the weeks and months ahead.

Cork welcomed back a couple of their Nemo Rangers contingent, Paul Kerrigan and Luke Connolly, for appearances off the bench against Down and the previous week against Leitrim.

Ulster champions, Kilcoo, who, like Nemo, found Corofin too hot handle in the All-Ireland club championship final, also had representatives, centre-forward Paul Devlin and substitute Cory Quinn, who scored their goal, back in their ranks.

The Nemo pair made significant contributions during their 20-odd minutes on the pitch.

“Paul carried the ball 80 yards up the pitch to the far corner and won a free which Luke kicked from out near the touchline.

“That's where the experience comes in. You're running down the clock and if you should lose the ball you're doing it in an area where the opponents have to work it back down the full length of the pitch.

Luke's kick was outrageous, typical of him.” 

The one criticism and it's only minor is Cork's lack of goals, just one in three appearances, though a total of 51 points from three outings in foul weather is highly impressive.

All-Ireland champions Dublin also have a return of 54 points, but that's made up of a goal in their games against Kerry, Mayo and Monaghan, two of which finished level.

Cork had chances against Down, Ciarán Sheehan, scorer of the lone goal to-date, in the first-half and substitute Colm O'Callaghan in the second.

“I'm not sure how clear-cut the opportunities were from my position standing on the sidelines.

“Ciaran's effort was a tight enough angle while Colm felt himself the goal was on even though he might have taken a point.

“There was a possibility of another between Cian Kiely and Luke who got their wires crossed, but the thing is if you tack on a score there it makes the game that bit easier again.

“We conceded a poor enough goal, but I thought we responded well enough to that with Ian Maguire to the fore.

“We're a bit older and wiser and our management of games is better now.

“People will say Cork should be beating Down anyway, but they are a very difficult team to beat.

“Last year they ran Mayo very close in the qualifiers and Down have an excellent manager in James Tally, who is in his second year, so to win fairly comfortably was very pleasing.” 

Cork manager Ronan McCarthy. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Cork manager Ronan McCarthy. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Only one game in division 3 fell victim to Storm Ciara last weekend, the meeting of Louth and Offaly in Drogheda.

It's been re-fixed for Sunday at 1pm and is important for both teams who've yet to win this season.

Louth prop up the table, pointless from two outings, while Offaly have one point from a 0-10 each draw with second-placed Longford, who are a point behind Cork.

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