Unbeaten Cork on top as they travel to Galway for final group game

Mark McCarthy's side have looked the part in wins over Tipp and Kerry
Unbeaten Cork on top as they travel to Galway for final group game

Cork's Claire Kingston shoots from Kerry's Jackie Horgan during the Littlewood's Division 2 League game at Castle Road. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

SATURDAY: Littlewoods Division 2 National League; Cork v Galway; Gort, 1.30pm.

CORK are top of their group as they travel to Galway tomorrow for their final group game in the Littlewoods Division 2 national league.

Having beaten Tipperary and Galway, they are the only side of the four that is undefeated.

Kerry shocked Galway in round one, but lost to Cork last weekend; Galway got their bid for a place in the quarter-finals back on track, with a 2-10-to-2-4 victory over Tipperary.

Cork seem to be safe and through to the quarter-finals, but a slip-up against Galway would put the home sides on four points and were Kerry to defeat Tipperary, three teams could end up on four points each.

If this were to happen, the side with the best scoring average would go through and Cork are ahead of Galway and Kerry on scoring averages.

Cork, in a bid to get it right, have introduced all of their panel end ensured game time for players. On Saturday last, there were five changes to the side that defeated Tipperary the first day out and manager, Mark McCarthy, and his back-room team will have a few changes again for the clash with Galway.

Jill Ann Quirke of Tipperary in action against Kate Kilcommins of Cork. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Jill Ann Quirke of Tipperary in action against Kate Kilcommins of Cork. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

After the game, while he expressed delight at his side’s victory, McCarthy said that this is very much a squad and any player, on any day, can expect to start or be called into action.

So far, everybody has performed well, which will, no doubt, give McCarthy headaches when he comes to nailing down a starting 15 for championship, but it is a headache I am sure he is happy to have.

Last Saturday, we again had several standout performances: Ali Smith continued to impress up front, as did Finola Neville; Lauren Callanan again covered acres of ground in the midfield berth and got through a huge amount of work; while, in defence, Aisling Moloney and Aoife O’Callaghan impressed.

Rachel Harty, Laura Hayes, Kate Kilcommins, and Clodagh Finn all got on the score sheet, as did Katie Walsh and Kate Wall, when introduced off the bench.

Again, in his post-match interview, Mark McCarthy emphasised the importance of Kerry causing a big upset (they defeated Galway in round one, but Galway rallied and turned in a strong performance to get the show back on the road with an excellent victory over a tough Tipperary side).

There is a lot of experience in the Galway lineout and Galway are always hard to beat on home soil, in any grade.

Having watched their clash with Tipperary, they are a strong, physical side and they looked very sharp.

Among the players who have caught the eye are Mairead Dillon, Cora Kenny, Aine Keane, Niamh Niland, Ava Lynskey, Molly Mannion, and the hugely experienced Tara Rutledge, and with eight of their starting 15 getting on the score sheet against Tipperary, they will certainly test the Cork defence.

Cathal Murray is manager to both the senior and intermediate teams and this is sure to be causing headaches, as both teams are out on the same day.

Tomorrow, the Galway seniors play Limerick away from home, but, on the plus side for Cathal Murray and his back-room staff, they, like Cork, have two separate panels, so other than it being a clash for the manager, it should work out fine.

A must-win game for Galway and a tough tester for Cork, it promises to be a cracker.

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