MARK COLEMAN is likely to be included in the Cork squad for next Sunday’s league encounter with Clare at Cusack Park, 2pm.
Last season’s All-Star has been marked absent for Cork’s opening games of the campaign against Kilkenny and Wexford and for UCC’s Fitzgibbon Cup campaign with a hamstring injury but, according to selector Kieran ‘Fraggie’ Murphy he should figure in the plans for Sunday.
The clash with the Banner in Ennis is live on TG4 from 1.30pm and should be an interesting tie with Clare on a high after early victories over Tipp and Kilkenny, while the Rebels need a win to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle.
“Mark is available again but having little done we’ll have to decide whether or not to start him,” said Sars man Murphy.
There are injury concerns surrounding Darragh Fitzgibbon, Mikey Cahalane and Conor Lehane with all three picking up knocks in training earlier in the week and, as a result, the starting 15 will not be announced until Friday night.
Cahalane is the most serious of the three with a hamstring issue and is likely to be ruled out while Fitzgibbon and Lehane will be further assessed at the final training session before the game.
Having lost to Wexford in Wexford Park, the Cork selector believes that getting back to winning ways is important.
“Obviously, we want to get back on track in what is a desperately competitive group.
“We were disappointed with the result against Wexford after playing well in the first-half.
“However, the players could not be faulted for the effort on the day but things went against us in the second-half.’’ And he expects Clare to provide another stern test of their credentials next Sunday.
“Without a doubt, they have started off very well with wins over Tipperary and Kilkenny and there now seems to be a fresh impetus up there.
“Cusack Park is a tough place to get anything from but we’ll be in a positive mood going up there.”
Two top hurling counties are not going to make the knockout stages so the margin for error from now on is going to be very tight with six teams vying for four spots.
Cork defeated the Banner County in the corresponding fixture last season and also beat them in the Munster final.
However, when the sides clashed in the pre-season Munster League, a very experimental Cork team were well beaten by a much stronger Clare side.
Sunday’s game is live on TG4, followed by deferred coverage of Waterford-Kilkenny and Monaghan versus Kerry in the football league.