By taking the hurling league seriously, Cork are getting more out of it

There's still work to do but Kieran Kingston's side have ticked the boxes so far
By taking the hurling league seriously, Cork are getting more out of it

Cork's Daire Connery gathers the sliotar from Westmeath's Joey Boyle. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CORK take a breather from league action this weekend, before a Bank Holiday Saturday trip to the Gaelic Grounds.

Without a win this season, the hosts will hit Cork with everything they've got. It'll be the ideal opportunity for Limerick to lay down a marker and reassert their status as hurling's current kingpins.

A month out from the championship clash, Kieran Kingston and his selectors won't want to reveal their full hand, but by the same token, they'll be keen to maintain momentum and confidence. However, the result won't be as important as the performance.

Limerick have found the going tougher this season than they did in 2020, a draw with Tipp followed by losses to Galway and Waterford. That comes with the territory. Other counties are eager to show their worth against the All-Ireland champions and Limerick haven't received too many breaks from referees lately. 

The Cork management would have been satisfied with last Sunday's facile victory over Westmeath. They struck for seven goals to go with the seven in the games against Waterford and Tipp. 

The support play and unselfishness of the forwards was a real positive; likewise a clean sheet for the backs.

At midfield Darragh Fitzgibbon and Daire Connery combined for the first time at this level and, in tandem with roaming centre-forward Luke Meade and Tim O'Mahony in the half-back line, ran the game. This wasn't related to championship hurling, but it ticked the boxes.

Luke Meade shoots against Westmeath. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Luke Meade shoots against Westmeath. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

By treating the league more seriously, Cork are getting more out of it. Rebel teams were too willing to go through the motions in recent seasons and the bad habits picked up often carried through the summer.

With Declan Dalton, Robbie O'Flynn, Shane Kingston and Seamus Harnedy all injured, we got another look at Shane Barrett as a starter, with Alan Connolly coming in after pilfering 2-2 in two brief cameos. Neither disappointed, Barrett taking his tally for the league up to 1-5 and Connolly nailing another 2-2.

One of Connolly's points came from a measured crossfield delivery from Blackrock club-mate Niall Cashman. It was the latter's third consecutive appearance at wing-back and he's been solid all through. Limerick away would be the ideal arena to assess if he's ready for championship.

That's what the coming weeks are all about.

CORK SCORERS 2021:

Patrick Horgan 3-22 (0-14 f, 0-2 65), 

Alan Connolly 4-2, 

Alan Cadogan 1-7, 

Shane Barrett 1-5,

Tim O'Mahony 1-5 (0-1 f), 

Darragh Fitzgibbon 0-6, 

Luke Meade 1-3,

Robbie O’Flynn 1-2, 

Daire Connery 0-4 (0-2 f),

Jack O’Connor, Shane Kingston 1-0 each, 

Conor Cahalane 0-2,  

Brian Turnbull 0-2 f,

Rob Downey, Seán Twomey, Seán O'Leary Hayes, Séamus Harnedy 0-1 each.

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