CORK hope opening night nerves were behind the county’s disappointing display in the 1-16 to 0-5 defeat by Kerry in the Munster Minor Football Championship in Tralee on Thursday night.
The defending champions get an opportunity to redeem themselves and another chance of a crack off Kerry in the winner-take-all semi-final against Tipperary in Thurles on Thursday.
The watching Tipp representatives at a well-attended Austin Stack Park probably left none the wiser, fully expecting a backlash of sorts from the Rebels.
If it’s any comfort the 2019 All-Ireland winning season began in similar fashion, a 16-point thumping by the Kingdom at Páirc Uí Rinn.
It meant everything was on the line against Clare in Ennis and Cork needed a late goal from substitute Shane Aherne (Douglas) to clinch a 3-9 to 0-14 victory.
A month after being on the receiving end of a lesson from Kerry, Cork pushed their rivals all the way in a thrilling final, going down narrowly by 3-14 to 2-14, before embarking on a successful All-Ireland adventure.
Meanwhile, Tipperary host Limerick in the Munster senior semi-final in Thurles this evening at 7pm, reviving memories of their epic 2020 tie.
Tipp won that by 1-15 to 2-11 after extra-time following Conor Sweeney’s memorable side-line equaliser to force additional time.
Tipp defeated Waterford by 2-13 to 1-8 while Limerick upset Clare in a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
“I think Limerick will edge it and face Kerry in the final,” said six-time All-Ireland winner Diarmuid Connolly, speaking to BoyleSports during the week.
“Both are priced at even money so this is going to be a tight battle.
“Limerick are now a Division 2 side and were the in-form team in Division 3 with five wins.
“Tipperary also had five wins, but those were in Division 4 and while they are now in Division 3, this is not where this side should be,” Connolly added.
It’s also semi-final time in Leinster tomorrow and he expects a Kildare-Dublin showdown.
Kildare take on Westmeath in the first of the double-header at Croke Park followed by Dublin-Meath.
“Kildare are the closest team to Dublin in Leinster.
“They had a great league and were a bit unlucky not to get a few more results, a couple of one-point and two-point losses.
“Kildare drew with Kerry and beat Dublin which is a huge factor in the league before dispatching Louth, who had a very good league themselves.
“The two guys who stood out for me were Jimmy Hyland and Daniel Flynn, who has power and pace and knows where the back of the net is.” Connolly believes the Dubs have too much for Meath, who had a very disappointing league campaign.
“Meath haven’t been around for the last few years.
“Maybe, two or three years ago they were building something, but Meath went back this year.
“Dublin scored 1-24 against Wexford, had nine different scorers and 1-6 from Con O’Callaghan.
“With him in the team, I believe Dublin are a different prospect.” The former Dublin star expects Monaghan to get the better of Derry in the Ulster semi-final and take on Donegal in the decider.
“I fancy Monaghan even though Derry are coming.
“I said at the start of the year that Monaghan have something a little different.
“Rory Gallagher has worked a miracle of a job with his Derry side.
“Conor Glass came back from Australia and has made a huge impact on the squad.
“And while Ciaran McFaul has gone to Boston for the summer his loss wasn’t as big as I thought it might be.
“Twenty minutes into the Tyrone game, Derry were in control and pretty much beating them all over the field.
“Tyrone had a man sent off. Sometimes in Ulster, when you get a man sent off, it doesn’t have that much of an influence on a game but this Derry side blew them out of the water.
“They put up 1-18 against the All-Ireland champions, who only scored 0-10, but Derry are still in Division 2 and that is a negative because you don’t get the competitive games you’d get in Division 1,” Connolly concluded.