GER Millerick is back in contention for Cork’s make-or-break final Munster SHC game against Tipperary on Sunday at FBD Semple Stadium (4pm).
The Fr O’Neills man, who missed last year’s All-Ireland final loss to Limerick, started the opening two championship games against Limerick and Clare but was forced off with a hamstring injury in the latter. He was ruled out of last Sunday’s win over Waterford, with Luke Meade partnering Darragh Fitzgibbon at midfield, but Millerick is available again to Kieran Kingston and his management team.
Dáire O’Leary, who has yet to feature in the championship after picking up a foot injury that ruled him out of the Allianz Hurling League final loss to Waterford and was then aggravated in the U20 game against Tipperary, remains out. Tim O’Mahony, who was unable to start the Waterford match last week due to a dead leg, did play a half-hour as a sub for Patrick Horgan and, while he is not yet back to 100 percent fitness, he is not far off.
“Dáire O’Leary is still unavailable, he’s not back training yet,” Kingston said, “but Ger Millerick is back.
The six-point win over Waterford gave life to Cork’s campaign and, coupled with the draw between Clare and Limerick at Cusack Park in Ennis, means that any win for the Rebels would be sufficient to secure third place in the table and a spot in the preliminary All-Ireland quarter-finals against the winners of the second-tier Joe McDonagh Cup.
Backing up the good performance in Walsh Park is the key thing that Kingston wants to see, ensuring that it is not a one-off.
“Last week was fantastic,” he said, “it was a backs-to-the-wall game, no doubt about it, and lads reacted really well to what was asked of them, down in a cauldron.
“It was good, but it’s all for nought unless we can back it up on Sunday. Top teams and top players deliver consistently and that’s where we need to get to as a collective, that we’re performing consistently in big games.
“This is a massive game for us, a huge game for us, a lifeline, but it’s also a lifeline for Tipperary.”
Despite losing their opening three games to Waterford, Clare and Limerick respectively, the home side have an outside chance of advancing if they can beat Cork by seven points or more and hope that Waterford suffer a significant loss against Clare in Ennis.
The fact that the Premier County have something to play for will ensure that there is absolutely no complacency from Cork.
“A hundred percent,” Kingston said. “Everybody was forecasting this game to be a dead rubber but that was thrown on its head last Sunday and now you’ve bother teams fighting for a place in the qualifiers.
In the Leinster SHC tomorrow evening, Laois face Westmeath with the winners set to face a relegation play-off unless Kerry win the Joe McDonagh. Elsewhere, Galway – guaranteed a knockout spot but not yet assured of a place in the final – host Dublin in Salthill while Kilkenny will look to secure their spot in the decider against a Wexford side that must win in Nowlan Park to avoid an early exit from the competition.