Cork v Louth: Footballers will stick with  team that rattled Kerry for All-Ireland qualifier

Rebels host Mickey Harte's side at 2pm in Páirc Uí Chaoimh this Saturday
Cork v Louth: Footballers will stick with  team that rattled Kerry for All-Ireland qualifier

Eoghan McSweeney in league action against Clare. Picture: Larry Cummins.

CORK are expected to keep change to a minimum for their All-Ireland Senior Football Championship round 1 qualifier against Louth at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday at 2pm.

They will have to find a replacement for left corner-back Kevin Flahive (Douglas), who suffered a season-ending cruciate-knee-ligament injury in the Munster semi-final defeat to Kerry a month ago, while keeper Micheál Aodh Martin (Nemo Rangers) is in a race against time to recover from a groin injury sustained in the 0-23 to 0-11 defeat at Páirc Uí Rinn. Flahive was carried off near the end, when Cork had used their five substitutes.

Leading the contenders for the number-four jersey is Tadhg Corkery (Cill na Martra), with U20 Tommy Walsh (Kanturk) and possibly Sean Powter (Douglas) in the frame, too.

Corkery has plenty of experience in the role this season, having been ever-present there in the opening five games of the Division 2 campaign until injury forced him to miss the concluding two games, the victories over Down and Offaly, which preserved Cork’s status for 2023.

Kieran Histon (Nemo Rangers) took over the position against Down, with Walsh replacing him during the game and then retaining the jersey for the trip to Tullamore. He was an unused substitute against Kerry and while Powter was a late change, coming in at centre-forward to the exclusion of Eoghan McSweeney (Knocknagree), the Douglas player diverted to a sweeper’s role following the throw-in.

 Eoghan McSweeney in league action against Clare. Picture: Larry Cummins.
Eoghan McSweeney in league action against Clare. Picture: Larry Cummins.

Powter was injured and replaced after 57 minutes by Corkery and such is his versatility that he, too, could be accommodated in the full-back line, as he was in the opening league game, away to Roscommon. Power is unlikely to be asked to play a sweeper’s role again, though with his pace, skill, and ability to move quickly with the football, Cork might still select him in defence again with licence to counter-attack.

Martin suffered a groin injury during the first half of the Kerry game when replaced by Dylan Foley (Éire Óg), who plays up front with his club though he has Sigerson Cup experience with UCC as a goal-tender.

If Martin is ruled out, it’s likely that Foley’s club colleague, Chris Kelly, will don the number one jersey, having started the league games against Derry and Galway, but limping off with a leg injury in the latter and missing out the remaining games (as well as the Kerry tie) in the championship.

Kelly recently returned to action with his club and must be the favourite to get the nod. 

Otherwise, Cork seem set to start with the bulk of the players from their last three games. Maurice Shanley (Clonakilty), John Cooper (Éire Óg), and Rory Maguire (Castlehaven) will bolster the defence, with Colm O’Callaghan (Éire Óg) partnering Ian Maguire (St Finbarr’s) at midfield. Much of Cork’s scoring power comes from Steven Sherlock (St Finbarr’s) and Cathail O’Mahony (Mitchelstown).

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