CORK footballers set themselves up for a possible crack at promotion to Division 1 following their 2-12 to 0-10 win over Laois in Portlaoise on Saturday evening.
Victory over Clare in Ennis on Sunday should clinch a promotion play-off, but manager Ronan McCarthy anticipates an even tougher challenge
“It was great to win a must-win game like this, but the other side of it is that we must also win in Ennis,” he said.
“At least our fate is in our own hands though we have to bring this and more next weekend.
“Clare are a team with an excellent manager in Colm Collins and they’ve caused us plenty of trouble in the past few years. It’s going to be a difficult game, but we will have to focus on ourselves.
“We lifted our performance from last week and were more consistent on this occasion,” he added.
Cork didn’t have Brian Hurley or Cathail O’Mahony and McCarthy is unsure about their availability.
“You can’t take a chance with them. Brian failed his return to play protocol during the week but was certainly feeling better Thursday and Friday. We will see how he is, but we won’t be taking any chances with him.
“Cathail has a mild calf muscle problem, but that needs minding, as well.”
First-half goals from Sean White and Ruairí Deane put Cork on their way while McCarthy handed seasonal starts to the likes of Mark Collins, Damien Gore, Cian Kiely and Shane Forde off the bench.
“I was delighted with the contributions from our subs because they showed they’re all eager for work, showing for the ball, tackling and playing for one another right to the end. That was needed to protect the lead we had.
“The most important thing is that we still have an opportunity to achieve our ambition of winning promotion and getting to a league semi-final, though Clare are going to be difficult.
“I thought the team showed a lot of character because Laois were highly motivated after losing the previous week, though we knew to expect that.”