Cork GAA: Hurling and football talking points ahead of a huge weekend

Cork travel to Antrim in the hurling while the footballers take on Limerick in an All-Ireland qualifier and Derry at minor level
Cork GAA: Hurling and football talking points ahead of a huge weekend

Shane Kingston of Cork in action against Barry Heffernan of Tipperary last month. Picture: George Tewkesbury/Sportsfile

1. COMPLACENCY:

Cork's hurlers are unbackable favourites to brush Antrim aside in Corrigan Park. 

Here on Leeside, hurling fans are already looking forward to an All-Ireland quarter-final between the Rebels and Galway. For a county that has struggled to be consistent in the modern era that's a dangerous approach.

Laois knocked Dublin out in similar circumstances in 2019. A cautionary tale that Kieran Kingston and his selectors will have mentioned at Cork training this week no doubt.

Yet there isn't really a strong case to be made for the home side to pull off an upset on Saturday, even allowing for their high-scoring exploits in the McDonagh Cup final win over Kerry.

They did hit 5-22 at Croker last Saturday but conceded 4-24 to a Kingdom side left very aggrieved by a few decisions that went against them, and to rue their failure to convert two very scoreable frees. Cork could have easily have been heading to Tralee this weekend, instead of Wexford.

On the flip side, Darren Gleeson and his players are under absolutely no pressure in the preliminary quarter-final. They've the experience of hurling in Division 1 of the league and beat Clare at Corrigan Park in 2021. This is a free shot for them.

Can they do it? Conal Cunning and Ciaran Clarke hit 3-14 between them in the Joe McDonagh decider but an improving Cork defence that frustrated Waterford should keep them under wraps. 

Cork have a plethora of attacking options themselves and once they have the right attitude, can rack up a big tally in Belfast.

2. HOME COMFORTS:

After the controversy over the 'Páirc Uí Rinn or nowhere' campaign, the footballers have somehow ended up with two matches at Páirc Uí Chaoimh to reach the All-Ireland football quarter-finals. The luck of the draw eh... 

Donal McKenny of Louth is tackled by Cian Kiely at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Donal McKenny of Louth is tackled by Cian Kiely at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Louth were the weakest team in the hat for the first round of the qualifiers and the other Division 3 finalists Limerick are certainly the poorest of the provincial runners-up. Due to the home and away arrangement with the Treaty, John Cleary's side now get to stage this Sunday's game.

Of course, Limerick will be happier to be heading to Leeside then having to face Mayo or Armagh. Cork got the job done against Louth but struggled against the blanket defence for long spells. Indeed when the Wee County pushed up in the last 10 minutes they struck for 1-3.

Limerick will fancy their chances if they go at Cork.

3. MINOR MARVELS:

Michael O'Brien's minor footballers were in electric form in their Munster final win over Kerry but now must back it up in the All-Ireland quarter-final against Derry.

Cork manager Michael O'Brien. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cork manager Michael O'Brien. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Cork beat Kerry at minor level last summer too but were subsequently hammered 0-23 to 1-6 by Tyrone. And Cork keeper Daniel Walsh was MVP. 

O'Brien and his management team should have the youngsters fully tuned in for this one.

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