CORK name their team tonight to play Leitrim in the second round of games in Division 3 in Carrick-on-Shannon on Sunday at 2pm.
It’s a 380-mile round trip for Ronan McCarthy’s charges and the team is not expected to show a whole pile of changes from that which defeated Offaly by 0-20 to 0-13 last weekend.
One area that may occupy management’s considerations will be the full-back line.
This lacked a strong, physical presence against an impressive Offaly inside line and one obvious switch would be that of Tom Clancy (Clonakilty) diverting there from midfield.
It would leave a vacancy at centre-field in determining who’d partner captain Ian Maguire (St Finbarr’s) and there are not that many options, especially with Killian O’Hanlon (Kilshannig) struggling with injury.
Cork finished the Offaly tie with young Brian Hartnett (Douglas) at midfield with John O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers) coming off the bench to play on the wing.
The performances of Michael Hurley (Castlehaven), when introduced during games, have been sensational, witness the Offaly game, top-scoring 0-5, and the Super 8 joust with Dublin last summer.
There must be a strong temptation to hand him a starting role or maybe McCarthy and co are happy to pluck Hurley from the substitutes.
While Cork are the un-backable 1/7 favourites to make it two wins from two, Leitrim, in their own back-yard, will be no push-over.
Last week, they ventured to Derry, who they played three times last season, when both won promotion from division 4, and came with a praise-worthy draw.
The Connacht side jumped 1-3 to 0-1 in front by the 14th minute, wing-back Cillian McGloin scoring the goal, but the home side recovered to lead by a point at the break, 1-8 to 1-7.
The sides were tied at 2-8 to 1-11 during the second-half until Leitrim edged a couple of points clear near the only for Derry’s Ciarán McFaul to grab an injury-time equaliser.
Corner-forward Keith Beirne top-scored for Leitrim with 0-9, all bar one coming from frees and a ‘45, with midfielder Shane Moran claiming 0-3.
McCarthy, once more, stressed that Cork cannot take anything for granted despite the bookies’ odds.
“It seems to be me forewarning everybody about it and nobody seems to believe me, but they will some day.
“I’m sure people think I’m saying it just to say it, but when I was playing and Cork were a Division 1 team, winning Munster championships and playing in All-Ireland semi-finals regularly, we were beaten above in Wicklow and beaten above in Westmeath.
“This notion that you can just show up and it’ll be yours is wrong. I think the Offaly game showed there’s quality throughout the divisions.
“Maybe we had a bit more than them at the end, but we had to make it count.
“Leitrim drawing with Derry is another example of that. There are no gimmies. You have to go out and earn your wins,” he said.
McCarthy made some interesting points, when quizzed about the number and scale of hamstring injuries sustained by the footballers in recent times.
Brian Hurley is the latest victim to follow Nathan Walsh, who misses the entire league, though Sean Powter and Sam Ryan made welcome re-appearances as starters last week and seemed to come through unscathed.
“Obviously, we have regular medical team meetings and we discuss all types of injuries.
“We’ve had a lot of what I would call niggles. We’ve had no major hamstring injury.
“The problem is now the minute you pick up even a grade 1 injury, it’s a minimum two weeks, sometimes longer.
“Brian could, potentially, miss the first three games of the league for what is a niggle really, but it’s something that we’re not prepared to take a chance on.
“Brian did a bit of running before the Offaly game. I think it’s a probably a good indicator that you’re looking at round 4 (away to Tipperary) of the league.
“I mentioned earlier Sam had a grade 4 tear back in May and it could have been a career ending injury.
Powter obviously has had his issues for two years.
“People take for granted 70 minutes of inter-county football. It’s a big ask and they’ve all come through.”
O’Hanlon saw the medics earlier in the week to assess his damaged nose, sustained in CIT’s first round Trench Cup last week.
The Kilshannig player missed the Offaly game and also saw out the college’s semi-final win over Dundalk IT during the week.
He’s unlikely to be involved in Carrick-on-Shannon and CIT will be keeping their fingers crossed that he’s available for their final this night week in DCU.
The whole schedule of third-level, All-Ireland club and U20 games in January has come in for a lot of criticism and justifiably so.
For example, will any of the outfield Nemo Rangers players be summoned for action on Sunday following their exit from the club championship at the start of the month?
And it’s the same story next week and now you can start adding divisional U20 championships into the mix, too. Talk about player burn-out!
People take for granted 70 minutes of inter-county football. It’s a big ask and they’ve all come through.