CORK hurling selector Diarmuid O'Sullivan is optimistic that Ger Millerick could feature in next Sunday's All-Ireland SHC final against Limerick in Croke Park.
The Fr O'Neills man, who has impressed in the half-back line during Kieran Kingston's side's run to the decider, had to retire just before half-time in last Sunday's semi-final win over Kilkenny, having done a good job in curbing the impact of TJ Reid up to then.
While he has been limited to very light training since then, O'Sullivan remains hopeful that he could still play a part.
“Absolutely,” he said.
“I think Ger has been a pivotal part of our squad over the last number of months. Obviously, he got the injury last Sunday but he’s been doing light training with [physio] Declan O’Sullivan during the week and he continued his rehab this morning.
“He’s quite happy with his rehab, so we’d be hoping Tuesday night that he’d be able to step up to maybe take part in 70, 75 percent of the session and into Friday night.
“So, look, the opportunity is still there for him and we’re delighted that the opportunity is there for him.
“The door is still open.”
Apart from Millerick, Cork have almost a full squad to choose from.
“Unfortunately, Bill Cooper is ruled out,” O'Sullivan said.
“He’s the only guy out of our 37 that is ruled out and you have to feel for Bill. He has given a hell of a lot of his career for Cork and hell of a lot of years and great service.
“Unfortunately, Bill’s injury is significant enough that he won’t recover for the weekend. Other than that, it’s clear across the board.”
O'Sullivan is also happy that Limerick's Peter Casey, sent off in their semi-final win over Waterford last Saturday, has had his suspension lifted and is free to play.
“It’s brilliant,” he said. “All-Ireland final day is about seeing the best players and best hurlers in the country on the field. Peter Casey 100 percent fits into that bracket, so I’m glad for him as a player. That’s it.
Cork's last senior final was in 2013 and Patrick Horgan and Séamus Harnedy are the only survivors from then. While O'Sullivan accepts that there is a danger of being overawed, he has been pleased with the response in the week since the semi-final.
“You can legislate for a lot of things,” he said, “but you can’t really factor in people’s personalities or their emotions.
“We’re happy with where they’ve come from last Sunday. We had a good hit-out this morning [Saturday], we had a really good one Wednesday night. The boys are in a good place and we’re comfortable with where they are at the moment.”
Meanwhile,the Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U20HC final between Cork and Galway has been postponed for a second time and will now take place next Wednesday, August 18.
Having been initially set for last Saturday, August 7, the game was initially put back to a Covid case in the Cork camp and every other member of the group being classed as a close contact. It was then set for this coming Tuesday, August 17 but has now been delayed by 24 hours, with the move ensuring that an attendance of 4,400 is possible.
While Cork don’t have any absentees emanating from the Covid issue, one player who will be absent is full-back Dáire O’Leary. The Watergrasshill man was forced off in the Munster final win over Limerick with a hamstring problem and hasn't been passed fit.