THE Cork hurling management have some big calls to make on the team to face Waterford at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday, 7pm.
Given how well the side performed against Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds the tendency might be to go with an unchanged starting 15.
However, Conor Lehane was withdrawn at half-time against the All-Ireland and national league champions with a leg injury but team boss John Meyler expected him to be ready when he spoke last week.
His replacement in that game, Alan Cadogan was very influential and registered three fine points.
Also during the course of that game, Stephen McDonnell came in for Sean O’Donoghue at half-time and did a fine job while Chris Joyce, Shane Kingston and Deccie Dalton replaced Rob Downey, Luke Meade and Aidan Walsh respectively in the second half, Dalton delivering a brace of pointsf.
It was a case of utilising the panel to good effect with all of the replacements impacting on the proceedings.
If Lehane’s injury is not fully cleared up, he might be held in reserve with Cadogan the obvious replacement while McDonnell has made a strong case to get the nod in defence.
On the evidence presented in Limerick, the management have succeeded in creating more options off the bench, something that they prioritised at the outset of the year.
The battle for starting places has certainly intensified and if Cork progress into the latter stages of the championship, Colm Spillane will be added to that list of options.
Sunday’s game is similar to last season when the sides met again in what was the final game in the Round-Robin series Waterford were out of contention as they are on Sunday but with just a few minutes remaining the sides were level until Cork’s greater need carried the day.
However, last season they had been unlucky in some games, should have beaten Tipperary and the squad was badly hit with injuries to key players.
It was also Derek McGrath’s final game at the helm and they certainly gave it a right cut for him.
This season, however, things have gone from bad to worse and the capitulation to Limerick last Sunday was near humiliating.
But, at the same time, Cork cannot underestimate them with Meyler’s team seeking a substantial return on the board given that the placings could be determined by points difference.
Meanwhile, the brilliant form of Patrick Horgan has been recognised with a PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month Award for May.
Cork's lethal weapon nailed the crucial goal against Limerick and still shot 0-14 when the Rebels were beaten by Tipperary in their Munster championship opener. Cavan's Martin Reilly landed the football award.