Munster rivals hurl on while Cork have a long gap until provincial opener in May

Munster rivals hurl on while Cork have a long gap until provincial opener in May
Niall O'Meara of Tipperary and Kieran Power of Waterford. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

AT least three of Cork’s Munster hurling championship opponents have at least one more game to look forward to in the national league.

That will become four if Tipperary defeat Galway in their rearranged game next Sunday, a game that might have been a dead rubber if Cork had beaten Galway but now takes on extra significance because it’s winner takes all situation as far as extending the Spring is concerned.

Limerick and Waterford is another rearranged game next weekend but both are already through to the knockout stages anyway.

Limerick should be in the semi-final with Waterford taking their place in the quarters.

The situation is more clear cut in Division 1B, Clare, Wexford and Kilkenny safely berthed in the knockout stages, Clare into the semi-final with Wexford and Kilkenny into the quarters So what are we to make of the hurling league thus far with the group stages very near to completion.

No team has a 100% record, Clare coming nearest with nine points from their five games and it has to be said that they have been very impressive under the stewardship of Brian Lohan.

A new management team usually brings a bit of a bounce and Tony Kelly is apparently hurling very well.

Shane O’Donnell has had some lean years since his glory day in Croke Park against Cork in 2013 and there seems to be a renewed optimism in the Banner right now.

Of course, where all counties are concerned, it’s early days yet and things have to be kept in perspective.

Clare's Ian Galvin scores a point. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane
Clare's Ian Galvin scores a point. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

But there’s nothing wrong with developing a winning mentality, it does no harm at all and anybody that says otherwise are wide of the mark.

Wexford have had a fine campaign too and Davy Fitzgerald would certainly not say no to a league title.

They had just the one blip against Clare and the manager was probably annoyed about that with Brian Lohan in the opposite corner.

They might really have a cut off the secondary competition from here on in.

Brian Cody won’t be unhappy either with Kilkenny’s run, three wins, a draw and a loss and safely berthed in the quarter-finals.

And that was done without the Ballyhale Shamrocks contingent although young Eoin Cody announced his arrival last Sunday against Carlow with a haul of 1-8.

Alan Murphy is another player who has figured prominently in this league campaign as Brian Cody goes about deepening his squad.

That is the object for all team bosses during the league and in Tipperary too it was noticeable that young newcomer, Dillon Quirke made a handsome contribution last Sunday in the win over Waterford with a return of 0-5 from play.

A number of their two All-Ireland U21/U20 victories from last season and the season before are now starting to come to the forefront and embellishing the plans of Liam Sheedy.

Limerick’s depth of resources is well documented at this stage while Waterford had newcomer Peter Hogan scoring 1-2.

With just the two rearranged games to be played now in Division 1A before we go into the knockout stages, how do we rank the counties on what has been on offer.

Cork, sad to say, would be well down the list after what has to be said was a fairly listless campaign when, apart from the win over Tipp and the second-half showing against Limerick, there hasn’t been a whole pile to shout about.

Cork really are not adding to the depth of their squad and doing so now won’t be easy now when there are no more competitive games left before the Munster championship bandwagon rolls into town.

Now that’s not saying it can’t happen and an awful lot can be learned from the practise ground.

In the 10 or 11 weeks now leading up to the championship opener with Limerick and training has to be intense and a few good, flaking matches that were so well documented in Nowlan Park down the years would do no harm at all.

The main prizes are never won in the Spring but a lot of the preparatory work for the Summer can be done.

The next few weeks should reveal a lot more but as far as Cork are concerned, there’s ground to be made up.

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