THE temptation for Ronan McCarthy and the Cork football management to stick with the same starting team for the crunch division 2 tie against Donegal at Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday at 2pm is obvious.
Going with the same 15 which began the 1-12 to 0-12 win over Tipperary in Thurles last time out to register Cork’s first victory of the campaign would be seen as a vote of confidence in the players.
And that’s important because it’s a commodity that’s been in short supply throughout a dismal campaign that has Cork still propping up the table, even if only scoring difference from Tipp and Clare, with just one game to play after this weekend’s action.
Jim Loughrey, Liam O’Donovan and Sean White weren’t involved in the Tipperary game due to injury.
Mallow’s Loughrey has a groin strain from the Clare game in Ennis on the second Sunday in February and wasn’t considered a long-term injury.
The Clonakilty pair have knee and injury concerns respectively while White’s brother Mark, goalkeeper on the UCC Sigerson Cup winning side, hasn’t figured since, missing the games against Meath and Tipp.
Nemo Rangers’ Micheál Aodh Martin took over the number one jersey in both instances with Chris Kelly (Éire Óg and CIT) on the bench.
Martin played particularly well against Tipp, when he fielded the ball confidently and made a telling save during the second half, when diverting a rasping shot from Kevin Fahey over the bar.
Generally, Cork are well served by in the half-back line, starting with Kevin Crowley, Tom Clancy (Clonakilty) and Mattie Taylor, but with Sigerson Cup winning captain, Cian Kiely, Tom Clancy (Fermoy) and Stephen Cronin more than capable of slotting in.
Manager Ronan McCarthy will resist the urge to throw Sean Powter in from the start despite the improvement in the team’s displays when the Douglas player was introduced against Meath and Tipp.
The hope that when Powter is plucked from the bench usually around the 55th-minute mark, Cork are still in the game and that his pace, power, scoring ability and general alround play will be influential.
Cork’s survival also hinges on results in the other games, Clare v Meath and Kildare v Tipp with Armagh-Fermanagh also significant.
Meanwhile, club fans will be interested to note the board’s initiative regarding season tickets or passes for the county championships which start on Monday with games in the senior football divisions/colleges section.
A €50 pass covers more than 70 first-round games across senior, premier intermediate and intermediate hurling and football championships.
It’s valid from Monday to May 5 and includes replays where necessary.
There are also €15 weekly passes, valid for seven days and covering each of the five weekends from April 5 to May 5.
Tickets can be purchased from the board offices at Mainport, Monahan Road, (telephone 021 4963311) or from board representatives Ronan Dwane (086 1701136), Noel O’Callaghan (086 2594421) or Joseph Blake (087 9865827).
They will also be sold on a date to be confirmed at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Saturday: NFL Division 1: Monaghan v Cavan, Clones, 2pm; Galway v Roscommon, Pearse Stadium, 3.30; Dublin v Tyrone, Croke Park, 7pm; Kerry v Mayo, Tralee, 7pm.
Division 2: Clare v Meath, Ennis, 1.30; Cork v Donegal, Páirc Uí Rinn, 2pm; Kildare v Tipperary, Newbridge, 2.30; Armagh v Fermanagh, Crossmaglen, 3pm.
Division 3: Longford v Sligo, Pearse Park, 2pm; Louth v Westmeath, Drogheda, 2pm; Offaly v Laois, Tullamore, 2pm; Carlow v Down, Cullen Park, 3pm.
Division 4: London v Waterford, Ruislip, 12.30; Antrim v Wicklow, Corrigan Park, 2pm; Wexford v Limerick, Wexford Park, 3pm; Derry v Leitrim, Celtic Park, 4pm.
NHL quarter-finals: Galway v Wexford, Salthill, 1.30; Waterford v Clare, Walsh Park, 3pm; Tipperary v Dublin, Semple Stadium, 4.30.
Relegation play-off: Kilkenny v Cork, Nowlan Park, 2pm.
SUNDAY: All-Ireland club hurling final: Ballyhale Shamrocks (Kilkenny) v St Thomas (Galway), Croke Park, 2pm.
All-Ireland club football final: Corofin (Galway) v Dr Croke’s (Kerry), Croke Park, 3.45.