TIM O’MAHONY and Sean O’Donoghue will make their first appearances for the Cork hurlers against Kilkenny at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday night, while Robbie O’Flynn is handed his full debut.
U21 defender David Griffin also features for the Rebels in the opening league game of the John Meyler era, but veteran keeper Anthony Nash faces a hectic day.
The Kanturk goalie will line out for his club at 2pm in Newbridge in the re-fixed All-Ireland Intermediate Hurling semi-final against Armagh’s Middletown-Na Fianna before heading back down the road to Leeside to face the Cats. It’s an unusual move considering Nash’s 21-year-old deputy Patrick Collins has played in the league before and is highly rated.
Still the injection of youth into the starting 15 by Meyler and his selectors Donal O’Mahony and Kieran Murphy adds to the interest ahead of the clash at the floodlit Páirc with Sars’ U21 duo Jack O’Connor and Eoghain Murphy on the bench, along with Blackrock’s Stephen Murphy, who last featured in the 2016 league.
Inniscarra native Sean O’Donoghue was a dual underage star with Cork and was part of the U21 football unit that captured the Munster title in 2016 but lost the All-Ireland final to Mayo. His primary focus since has been hurling and he offers a strong physical presence in defence.
New centre-back Tim O’Mahony caught the eye in attack for the Cork U21s last summer and has a pedigree as a goal-scorer for Newtownshandrum. He’ll form a new defensive axis on Saturday night, with the returning Eoin Cadogan named at full-back. Damien Cahalane and Mark Ellis, who is a sub, don’t start because of injury while Mark Coleman is also marked absent having missed UCC’s loss to UCD in the Fitzgibbon Cup on Wednesday as well.
The Cork attack is shorn of the suspended Patrick Horgan with Luke Meade on the bench but there is still plenty of firepower as Conor Lehane, Alan Cadogan and new captain Seamus Harnedy lead the line.
Shane Kingston didn’t feature for the College this week but is selected at number 15. Carrigaline’s Rob O’Shea and Luke Meade are on standby if Kingston fails a fitness test.
Kilkenny name their team tonight but Richie Hogan and TJ Reid aren’t expected to start and Paul Murphy is abroad.
CORK (v Kilkenny): Anthony Nash; David Griffin, Eoin Cadogan, Colm Spillane; Christopher Joyce, Tim O’Mahony, Sean O’Donoghue; Darragh Fitzgibbon, Bill Cooper; Robbie O’Flynn, Conor Lehane, Brian Lawton; Alan Cadogan, Seamus Harnedy (c), Shane Kingston.
Subs: Patrick Collins (Ballinhassig), Conor O’Sullivan (Sars), Daniel Kearney (Sars), Rob O’Shea (Carrigaline), Luke Meade (Newcestown), Jack O’Connor (Sars), Mark Ellis (Millstreet), Eoghain Murphy (Sars), Michael Cahalane (Bandon), Stephen Murphy (Blackrock), William Kearney (Sarsfields).