Cork have received a bye to the second round of the All-Ireland senior hurling championship qualifiers.
In Monday morning’s draw, made on RTÉ Radio 1’s Morning Ireland, new GAA President Larry McCarthy – a native of Bishopstown but who represents New York – pulled Cork and Galway out first, ensuring that they avoided the first round, which takes place this coming weekend.
Instead, Kieran Kingston’s side and the Tribesmen will await the winners of the two opening-round ties next weekend, which see Waterford paired with Laois and Wexford taking on Clare.
The latter clash, pitting former Clare All-Ireland-winning team-mates Brian Lohan and Davy Fitzgerald against each other, is likely to grab the bulk of the attention. Last a year, a Tony Kelly-inspired Banner side – the attacker scored 1-15 of 1-21 – eliminated the Model County in the second round of the qualifiers.
In the other game, while Laois will go in against Waterford as massive underdogs, they will at least have the boost of a good win over Antrim in last weekend’s preliminary round, having lost all of their Allianz Hurling League games. The O’Moore County have Mallow native Donach O’Donnell operating as coach under team manager Séamus ‘Cheddar’ Plunkett.
The two sides to emerge from the second round, which takes place on the weekend of July 24/25, will then advance to the All-Ireland quarter-finals, meeting the beaten provincial semi-finalists. Both the Munster and Leinster finals take place this weekend – on Saturday night, Kilkenny meet Dublin in Croke Park (7.30pm) while on Sunday All-Ireland champions Limerick clash with Tipperary in Páirc Uí Chaoimh (4.15pm). John Kiely’s team, who beat Cork in the semi-final last Saturday week, will be attempting to complete a first Munster hurling three in a row since Michael ‘Babs’ Keating’s Tipperary sides of 1987-89.
The two provincial champions will then progress to the All-Ireland semi-finals on the weekend of August 7/8, taking on the two quarter-final winners.
It’s a busy time for Cork sides in all grades, with the U20 team having won the 2020 All-Ireland title against Dublin last weekend and the 2021 championship coming on the horizon next week for Pat Ryan’s side, who won’t be able to use Alan Connolly or Shane Barrett until after the senior side have been eliminated from their championship.
Meanwhile, Noel Furling’s minor team begin their campaign tomorrow night with a Munster quarter-final clash against Clare in Semple Stadium (7.30pm). Should they win that, then they would advance to a provincial semi-final against Limerick on July 27. In tomorrow night’s other quarter-final, Tipperary meet Kerry, with the winners doing battle with Waterford in the semi-finals.