Cork hurling boss Meyler wary of Clare backlash with qualification on the line

Cork hurling boss Meyler wary of Clare backlash with qualification on the line
Cork manager John Meyler against Waterford. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

JOHN MEYLER was in the Gaelic Grounds last Sunday to cast the eye over Clare ahead of Cork’s visit to Cusack Park this Sunday for the final outing in the round-robin series of the Munster SHC.

He was keeping an eye too on Limerick, knowing full well that the All-Ireland champions might pop up in front of him again in the near future when the business end of the championship is reached.

But the only item on his agenda right now is securing another win in Ennis to ensure Cork will have an extended summer.

Former Kilkenny hurler Michael Fennelly speaks to John Meyler. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Former Kilkenny hurler Michael Fennelly speaks to John Meyler. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

So how did he view matters on the Ennis Road last weekend? 

“Limerick were superb on the day, they were very strong, they got some early scores and Clare were on the backfoot from a very early stage.’’

Cork now find themselves in a similar position to last week when they faced a team (Waterford), who had suffered two very heavy defeats in their previous two games, the situation that Clare now find themselves in.

As a result, Cork are clear favourites for Sunday.

“It’s simple really, Clare might have lost their last two games but they are still in contention in this Munster championship and that gives them every incentive playing us.

“We knew ourselves at the start of the campaign that it would go down to the last game and that’s the way it is, four counties going for the three places in Munster.’’

Cork’s response to the opening day defeat to Tipperary has been hugely positive with victories over Limerick and Waterford but it’s always the next game where the Cork boss is concerned.

“Look, we were very pleased with the performance last week against Waterford, we scored 2-30 and had 12 wides as well. To be honest we were a bit concerned going into that game because of the three-week break since the Limerick game.

“Waterford had a game the previous week and were competitive and at times early on we were a small bit rusty but we were pleased with how it went.

“But while some of the games in Munster this year have been one-sided, you still get nothing easy and it remains a very competitive championship. That’s proven by the fact that nothing really has been sorted yet going into the final weekend and we must be wary of a Clare backlash on Sunday playing in front of their own supporters.’’

Competition for places on the Cork starting 15 is intensifying from week to week and that was a primary objective for Meyler at the outset of the year.

“As I said after the game last Saturday night, this is now a 20-, 21-man game more than ever, all the more so when you are playing nearly from week to week.

“When this new format was introduced you knew that was going to be the case and you have to have those options.

“Over the past few games we have been able to bring in the likes of McDonnell and Joyce into the defence, last week we had Lehane and Kingston coming in during the game and getting some very good scores for us in attack.

“Tim O’Mahony came on in the last few minutes to give Bill (Cooper) a break at midfield and he did well for us, scoring two fine points.

“We used other guys too in the other games and that’s the way it has to be now, having that panel to meet your needs.’’

John Meyler at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Larry Cummins
John Meyler at Páirc Uí Rinn. Picture: Larry Cummins

Whilst the Cork supporters might be speculating on a third Munster final appearance on the trot and a third title to go along with it, Meyler’s objective differs at this point in time.

“Look, it’s in our own hands, win on Sunday up in Ennis and we’ll be one of the three counties to come out of the province.

“That was always our objective, our primary objective but nothing is sorted yet, we still have a massive amount to do to be one of those three teams.

“There are still four teams battling for those three places and we know we face a big task on Sunday against a Clare team that are still in the equation’’

Cork have a clean bill of health for Sunday but Colm Spillane remains out of the equation, continuing his recovery from a back injury which has ruled him out since last season.

“Colm is just not there at the moment, he’s not ready yet.’’

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