WEDNESDAY: Munster U20 Hurling semi-final: Cork v Clare, Páirc Uí Rinn, 7.30pm
CORK U20 hurling coach Johnny Dwyer, while delighted with the first-round victory over Limerick, expects Clare to be an even tougher proposition tomorrow night.
The Rebels had seven points to spare against Limerick at the end last week’s encounter, but on the three-quarter mark the sides were deadlocked at 0-13 apiece.
However, due to some fine general play and equally fine finishing from the likes of Shane O’Regan from Watergrasshill and Brian Turnbull from Douglas, they completed a successful night’s work.
It’s Clare up next for a place in the final against Waterford or Tipperary, who meet tonight in Thurles, and Dwyer is looking forward to what he hopes will be another positive outcome.
“Firstly, we were happy with the win. It was a tough game and Limerick proved dogged opponents.
“We didn’t shoot the lights out or anything like that, but it was our first game and, hopefully, now it’s one that will stand to us on Wednesday night.”
All the hard, preparatory work has been done and it was a case of taking things gently enough in the week between the two games.
“Yes, that would have been the case. We had a recovery session in UCC on Thursday night on the cross-training machines and in the Hydro-Therapy pool up there.
“We had a light enough training session on Saturday and only a puck around really last night.
“With such a quick turnaround that’s about as much as you can do because all the hard work would have been done.”
This will be Clare’s opening assignment in the competition and the Cork coach believes they’ll be formidable opponents.
“From the knowledge we have of them, they are a good side. We might have beaten them in the minor final two years ago, but that gives you no guarantees at all. It just does not work like that.
“They have a couple of senior players in the side, Diarmuid Ryan, Aidan McCarthy and Gary Cooney who all played in the Munster championship so those fellows backbone the side.
“They have played a useful few challenge games too against Galway and Wexford and from what we know of them, they are a serious side.”
Dwyer accepts that playing at home gives Cork a small advantage but that has to be used.
“In this instance, playing at home is a bit of an advantage and it’s definitely better than having to go up to Cusack Park.
“We have a good bunch of lads involved and there’s competition for places too. While we were delighted to get over Limerick, it’s a new ball game now and we have to try and keep on improving because there’s always that room to try and be better the next time.
“I know Tipp and Waterford is on tonight, but our only concern is Clare and getting past them to face whoever wins in Thurles.”
Cork have no injury concerns ahead of the game and the expectation is that there will be few if any changes.
Senior panelist Ger Millerick did not start against Limerick, being introduced during the course of the game, but will start in the half-back sector here if the management are fully satisfied with his overall fitness after a protracted spell on the sideline with injury.
Liam O’Shea from Lisgoold was introduced the last night too and posted a brace of points while Sean Twomey from Courcey Rovers will get an opportunity from the off after impressing last week.
Team captain James Keating and Sean O’Leary-Hayes will man the pivotal positions in defence while the midfield berths will be filled by Brian Roche and Tommy O’Connell.
The Cork selectors will be hoping that the excellence of Shane O’Regan and Brian Turnbull in attack can be repeated again.
They shared 1-10 from play against Limerick with O’Regan securing 1-6 from open play The Na Piarsaigh trio of Craig Hanifin, Daire Connery and Even Sheehan will be on the starting block again up front in what is a well balanced side with strong options on the bench as well.
Meanwhile,Tipperary will be strong favourites to overcome Waterford in the first semi-final tonight with senior player Jake Morris leading their attack.