WHILE Cork of course were not in senior hurling action at the weekend, things did become somewhat clearer in terms of who they might play in the second round of the All-Ireland qualifiers and, further ahead, the quarter-finals if they reach them.
Wins for Clare against Wexford (three points in the end after a blistering start was almost reeled in) and Waterford against Laois (five points but much closer than the bookmakers had anticipated) have made things more streamlined for Monday morning’s draw.
With Clare unable to meet the Déise – the sides have already clashed, with Brian Lohan’s men triumphing in the Munster quarter-final before losing to Tipperary – it follows that Cork can’t meet Galway, the other county to have received a bye to the second round. Therefore, it will be an all-Munster clash for Kieran Kingston’s side. Then, if they were to win that and Galway also progressed, a quarter-final would ensue against Dublin as Mattie Kenny’s men have already enjoyed victory against the manager’s native county.
Such projection is quite premature though and obviously the entire focus in the Cork camp will be on next Saturday’s game. Getting the bye is a double-edged sword – while it allows for more preparation time since the loss to Limerick in Thurles on July 3, it means that Kieran Kingston’s men will be facing a team that has a win under their belts. There is a school of thought that says Cork might have been better off not receiving the bye and getting back on the field, but that only holds true if you do manage to achieve that victory.
While the lack of knowledge around opponents until Monday means that some specific match planning has had to wait, it’s no bad thing to be only concentrating on yourself and what can be improved upon from the Limerick loss. And, even when you do know who you are playing, you can be hit with a curveball – Tipperary announced their team for the Munster final last Thursday night, presumably expecting their defence to be having to deal with Aaron Gillane, only for Limerick to name their side on Friday with the Patrickswell man as a sub.
While not all of the 15 wides can be said to have been gilt-edged chances, there wasn’t that much of a margin for error available, especially given the tallies Limerick can post – and which they themselves fell short of.
Having scored so many goals in the league, one would have expected and hoped that Cork would get in behind more often than they did and the missed penalty was a real example of Limerick being let off the hook. However, Limerick are regarded as the best team in the country for a reason and it’s likely that Cork will have more joy on that front next weekend. Converting the opportunities, and showing the game in Munster was a blip, is the key factor.
Ultimately, though, to riff on Keith Ricken’s message about learning about ourselves in tough times, we will see that Cork have learned and grown from the Limerick game when they suffer a setback and shake it off and come back stronger.