A BIG one for the Cork intermediate camogie side as they welcome All-Ireland runners-up and 2021 Division 2 League finalists Antrim to Castle Road at 1pm today for a game that has the potential to decide who tops the group and grabs a semi-final spot.
Cork had a superb victory over Kildare last weekend and Mark McCarthy will be hoping to continue the good form shown by his side. Cork were fast out of the traps and up front Kildare found the going tough against the attacking threat posed by Aoife Hurley, Kate Wall and Rachel O’Shea as Cork laid down an early marker and led from the start.
Boosted by a good start they confidently pushed on and with Lauren Callanan and Jacinta Crowley adding to the score sheet they held their lead to the final whistle. The hard-working Katie Walsh again proved a hand full for the Kildare defence as she showed huge pace, Rachel O’Shea continued to slot over the scores from frees and this is vital, in defence Niamh O’Leary, Aoife O’Callaghan and Grainne Hannon continue to show good form.
Cork, having lost out to Tipperary in the provincial final, needed this victory and the manner in which it was achieved will please Mark McCarthy and his management, boosted by a good start it is now vital to maintain the momentum and the challenge that Antrim will pose is one of the strongest Cork will face.
Antrim got their campaign off to a flying start as they overcame Kilkenny 2-13 to 1-12 on Sunday last in a tough contest where the sides were level on several occasions before Antrim finally shook off the challenges posed by a gritty and determined Kilkenny side.
Before the throw-in, the Antrim management were hit with the withdrawal of four players due to a Covid contact which meant they had to bring four players into their starting 15 and readjust their team with a lot of positional changes. They settled into the game with early points from Maeve Kelly, Nicole O’Neill and minor player Aine Magill, who has been playing superbly. She confidently hit four points from play and Cork will have to keep a close eye on her, as given any sniff of a score she will punish any defence.
Katie Mc Aleese Carey made a return to the county set-up after a two-year absence when introduced for the second half and the former county captain made her presence felt as she grabbed a vital goal that ultimately proved to be the score that saw Antrim over the line.
Her experience is a welcome boost for Antrim and she is a huge asset to a group of players that were hugely disappointed to lose both the All Ireland final and the national league decider.
The return from injury of both Chloe Drain and Maeve Connolly have strengthened the side and debutante Aine Magill showed she is well able for the challenges at the higher level Katie Carey’s performance when introduced will give see Antrim manager Paul McKillen with plenty of competition for places in his starting team.
All through this year’s league, they have been impressive victories over Galway and Meath saw them take on Down and in a close league decider where it finished 3-8 to 1-12, the hurt from this defeat is driving them on and they are no doubt one of the sides being mentioned to be there come the closing stages of championship and they will come to Cork determined to succeed.
Cork got their Minor campaign off to a flying start as they overcame Clare in their opening game last weekend and they continued their campaign when they host a Limerick side opening their campaign tomorrow in the Tesco All Ireland championship in Castle Road at 2pm.
The sides met recently in the provincial decider where Cork recorded 2-19 to 0-7 victory to claim the title and on the form shown Cork will go in as favourites to turn in a repeat performance but this is All-Ireland championship and Limerick will want to reverse that result.
They will come to Cork with all guns blazing in a bid to get their camping off to a good start.