Kingston understands why Cork are underdogs against Waterford

Kingston understands why Cork are underdogs against Waterford
Cork manager Kieran Kingston celebrates with his son Shane Kingston after the beating Tipp. Picture: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

John Horgan

Hurling

THE Cork players and management savoured their success over Tipperary, the performance energised the whole county but, according to team boss, Kieran Kingston, that day in Thurles is parked now, it’s done and it’s dusted.

Next Sunday they return to the ground on which they gave such a good account of themselves one month ago and are geared up for what the team manager describes as ‘a monumental challenge’.

Cork secured the national league points on offer at Walsh Park a few months ago, a considerable boost at the time but that old ground at that time of the year and Semple Stadium in mid-June are a world apart.

This will be an entirely different examination for Cork and particularly for the younger players that made such an impact against the All-Ireland champions.

“Waterford are favourites on Sunday for a reason," Kingston told the Echo.

“They are coming in under the radar in so far as they haven’t had a championship outing so far whereas the rest of us in Munster have.

“In a way they are in an ideal position, they will have seen us play, studied us that day against Tipperary and were probably happy that we won because they avoided playing the All-Ireland champions.

“We beat them in the league down there but this is a different game altogether and we are coming up against a team that were very close to being in the All-Ireland final last year.’’ 

Kingston is satisfied with how the season thus far has panned out for his players but reflecting on what was is not a consideration now.

“At the start of the year, if we had been told that we’d win the Munster League, finish second in the group in Division 1A of the league and beat Tipperary in the Munster championship, we certainly would have taken that.

“But that’s all in the past now and if we don’t beat Waterford next Sunday we are in the same position that Tipperary are, into the qualifiers and look who is in there already, Tipp, Kilkenny, Limerick, Dublin, one from Galway and Offaly.

“Of course we were delighted with the performance and the win over Tipperary but we would not have been happy with some of the scores that we conceded and certainly not the final tally of 1-26.’’ 

So what is he expecting on Sunday from Derek McGrath’s team?

“I believe that it will be a different test altogether from the Tipp game, I believe that it will be a far more defensive game and a huge test again for our young players.

“Waterford, I would expect, will play with a more defensive strategy, it’s hard to know but we cannot get over focused on the opposition.

“We have no control over what the opposition will do or won’t do and for us, it’s all about focusing on ourselves individually and collectively.’’

Cork’s win over Tipperary has heightened the expectation levels around the county but Kingston is quick to try and keep things on a more even keel.

“Of course, we must be realistic with expectation, we are still a developing team, certainly not anywhere near a complete team and we have a long way to go with that.

“It is still very much a developing process for us and you would have to say that Waterford are more advanced than us.’’ 

Many might have expected club games in the county to have been postponed after the Tipperary game but the management were happy to let them go ahead.

“Two weeks before this match on Sunday we had nine of the panel involved with Sars, Duhallow, UCC and Imokilly.

“The club games have gone ahead and the form of our players for their clubs is important for us and we have stressed that.

“We have had two good weeks preparation for this game and our task is to create competition for places on the starting 15, put out what we think is our best 15 and also to create competition for places on the 26 man match day squad from the 35 man panel that we have.’’ 

So it’s all systems go now for Sunday.

“Yes, we have an injury concern with Conor Lehane, he’s 50/50 but we’d be hopeful. 

"Beating Tipp was great because we had some bad days in Thurles in recent times but, as I said, it was a one off game and facing Waterford now is another monumental task for us.’’

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