FORMER Cork All-Ireland football winner Daniel Goulding feels that a Munster title would be a success for the Cork footballers this season.
Ronan McCarthy’s team will face either Limerick or Waterford, with the winners of potentially facing Kerry in the final. Understandably, Goulding believes it would be a tough task for Cork to defeat Kerry again this year.
“I think for this Cork team, winning Munster would be a successful campaign. If you do well in Munster the whole thing opens up,” Goulding said.
“You are into a semi-final then. At that point, unless it is Dublin, you could give a good account of yourself in the semi-final and have a great chance of making the final.
“Everyone is chasing Dublin really. It would be a stretch to assume that you would be confident of playing against Dublin.
“Cork’s first task is to beat Limerick or Waterford to get to the Munster final. It will be a big challenge to beat Kerry two years in a row.
“Cork can do it but going down to Killarney, I’m not too sure when was the last time Cork beat Kerry down there, so that’s a big challenge.
“The first challenge will be to get to the final though but defeating Limerick or Waterford.”
With the championship continuing as a straight knockout format this year, Goulding feels that does bring more excitement watching games. However, from a player’s point of view, he believes that teams should be given a second opportunity.
The Éire Óg player also thinks the way forward for the football championship is group stage games that make matches more competitive.
“As a spectator, the knockout is brilliant to watch but to be fair as players, you’d at least want one 'second chance'.
“It’s difficult for players because they put in so much effort and if they have one off-day, their championship could be over. To do all that work to potentially only have 70 minutes is tough."
By the same token, he wasn't a fan of the Super 8s.
“I thought the old system of the Super 8s was overkill but there should be some balance.
Ideally, in the future, I’d like to see it go like soccer. Where you have your group stages game and then you get out into a quarter or semi-final, something like that.
“I’d prefer to see that but I’m not sure it will happen. I know the provincial championships are important and people might not want to see them go but could they be used as the warm-up competition maybe replace the league?
“I just think that you need to get rid of the games where Dublin are beating a Carlow by 30 points.
“I don’t think those sort of games benefit either team, and it does nothing for the GAA. You want every game to be somewhat competitive.
“It might be a chase that you have two All-Irelands so that it is competitive games. I think that’s what everyone wants to see.
“There’s no joy in Dublin getting their first hard game in an All-Ireland final.”
With the return of non-elite sports, Goulding cannot wait to get back to playing competitive games again. Éire Óg have 2020 Senior A Football and Intermediate A Hurling finals against Mallow and Aghabullogue on the horizon.
Lockdown has made me realise that I want to play as long as possible really. I miss the competitive side of it more than anything.
“I miss playing competitive games. You can’t replicate it really. Paudie Kissane is our strength and conditioning coach for the club.
“He’s given us programmes to do at home. For me, it gives me a good opportunity anyway to make sure my body is right.
“I can work on different side of things like my mobility and try and rehab different small niggles I would have got last year. It suits me to a certain extent that I’m not playing too many games.
“The last couple of years, we were playing 16 league games between hurling and football before championship. Getting to the age I am [35 in July], it suits me a bit better that I don’t have that volume.
“When we go back playing games, we will play league games before playing the two county finals. We just need to look after ourselves, because having been out for so long, it’s very easy for lads to pick up injuries.
“We experienced that last year and it won’t be a case of training like dogs, it will be a more measured approach.
“Lads will be motivated to make sure they are correctly prepared for the county finals. The football final is a funny one. We obviously played Mallow in the group stages [losting 0-14 to 0-7] but I don’t think the outcome of the game will have any significance on the final because of the gap between the two games.
“I would imagine it will be August before the final is played and that’s a year since we played them in the group game.
“The teams will have changed and the form of the players so it will be kind of like the first round of championship at this stage."