AIDAN WALSH is set to start his first championship for Cork footballers in three years, when they play Waterford in Dungarvan on Saturday, 7pm.
The Kanturk player rejoined the footballers after the hurlers’ exit last summer and came on as a substitute in the fourth-round qualifier defeat by Donegal. Walsh last started in the All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Mayo in 2014, but opted for hurling until this season, when he concentrated solely on football.
He’s one of four players challenging for the midfield berths though a third is likely to be named in the half-forward line. Ruairi Deane, Ian Maguire and Alan O’Connor are also in the frame.
“It’s very competitive and that’s the way you’d want it,” said manager Peadar Healy.
He confirmed Brian O’Driscoll and Eoin Cadogan won’t be considered for selection, when the team is named after training tomorrow night.
Healy expects a much fitter side than last season after conducting a review at the end of 2016.
“We had slipped so far behind in our fitness levels and that was the area we concentrated on this year. We had fallen way behind other teams, nowhere near the Kerrys, the Dublins and the Mayos. The GPS stats showed that. We were putting in big blocks of heavy training during the league and I believe it will pay off for us in the championship,” he said.
Cork’s preparations centred on A versus B in-house games with club championship games preventing inter-county challenges.
Healy is happy Cork are playing a first-round game. “I think it suits us to be playing this early in the championship. We need games.
“The big drawback in the league was we weren’t consistent enough and we can’t afford any complacency against Waterford.
“I saw the Tipperary game last year and Tipp only pulled away in the last 10 minutes. We will have to be on our guard,” Healy warned.