THE return of Luke Connolly and Ciaran Sheehan should strengthen the Cork attack for the must-win Division 2 south league game against Laois at O’Moore Park on Saturday evening at 7pm.
They are two of three changes from the side which lost to Kildare by four points last week with Kevin O’Donovan starting in defence, having been sprung from the bench in that game.
The Nemo Rangers defender comes in at right half-back for Paul Walsh, who moves from there to partner captain Ian Maguire at midfield.
Kevin O’Driscoll switches to left half-forward to the exclusion of Colm O’Callaghan, who is named among the replacements, while Connolly takes over from Cathail O’Mahony, who is not involved, and Sheehan is at full-forward instead of the injured Brian Hurley.
Mark Collins returns to the panel and is joined by Shane Forde and Damien Gore in other changes from the 26-man panel who were on duty last week.
This will be Sheehan’s first start in a Cork jersey since the round 3 league win over Down last season, injury forcing him to sit out the latter end of the league and the two games in the championship.
The defence is reshaped with Sean Meehan listed to start at centre-back with Sean Powter wearing the number two jersey alongside Daniel O’Mahony, who made his debut a week ago.
In the half-forward line, Sean White is named on the right with Ruairí Deane in the centre. The return from injury of Collins and Gore to the substitutes also increases the options available to manager Ronan McCarthy.
The only place to watch the game and Cork’s hurling tie with Westmeath at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday is @GAAGO.
Meanwhile, Cork are bracing themselves for a Laois backlash after they underperformed in their seven-point defeat away to Clare in Ennis last week.
“We didn’t get going at all – not sure why,” said manager Micheal Quirke afterwards.
“Everything had been going in the direction we were happy with. Their shape, our football, everything was going pretty well and then that’s what we did there. Everyone is just very, very disappointed,” he told Midlands 103 radio.
“We weren’t good in any quarter – whether you put it quarters or two halves.
“I said to the players I wasn’t disappointed with them, I was disappointed for them because I know the huge work they have put into since we were beaten by Dublin.
“I’m just disappointed myself that they didn’t get to show that in the way that we wanted. You can write disappointment in bold letters. That is the common theme of the day.
“We felt we were in a good place. We did the sessions we were supposed to have, about 11 sessions and one challenge game. Fellows were moving really well and suddenly it didn’t click on the day.”
And with games against Cork and Kildare coming up over the next two weekends, Quirke said that both players and management need to see what can be done to bring about an improvement.
“It isn’t just the players,” he added. “All of us will have to have a look at what we did and whatever we did, didn’t work today.”
MA Martin (Nemo Rangers); S Powter (Douglas), D O’Mahony (Knocknagree), K Flahive (Douglas); K O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers), S Meehan (Kiskeam), M Taylor (Mallow); I Maguire (St Finbarr’s), captain, P Walsh (Kanturk); S White (Clonakilty), R Deane (Bantry Blues), K O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs); J O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), C Sheehan (Éire Óg), L Connolly (Nemo Rangers).
Subs: A Casey (Kiskeam), S Ryan (St Finbarr’s), P Ring (Aghabullogue), C Kiely (Ballincollig), T Corkery (Cill na Martra), S Forde (Na Piarsaigh), C O’Callaghan (Éire Óg), M Collins (Castlehaven), D Gore (Kilmacabea), B Murphy (St Vincent’s), D Dineen (Cill na Martra).