Tony Considine on how Cork can beat Galway at Semple Stadium

Rebels face the Tribe in Thurles on Saturday with a place in the All-Ireland hurling semi-final up for grabs
Tony Considine on how Cork can beat Galway at Semple Stadium

Cork's Conor Lehane has been in the form of his life in recent weeks. Picture: INPHO/John McVitty

THE GAA made the right decision about the venue this weekend, central to all the counties involved, and Semple Stadium should be at full capacity for two very attractive games.

The square in Thurles will be very busy and the mixture of colours will be fantastic. The timing of these games is important too as people can get home at a reasonable hour, especially for the many children attending. Common sense prevailed, so hopefully, the games will match the occasion.

In this writer’s opinion, the championship starts for real this weekend. No more safety nets. Knockout the order of the day. The best way I believe for championship. We will see this big time tomorrow. Players and management a lot more anxious, a lot more nervous tension around the place.

Everyone likes to get to Croke Park, and the winners are guaranteed to play in the Big House in two weeks, a motivating factor in itself. A lot at stake here then and a big prize to play for.

It’s Munster-Leinster in both games so we will find out if the Munster championship is ahead because it has been a lot more entertaining lately, with the Munster final itself a tremendous contest. While the Leinster championship has not been as entertaining, it had some really intense, hard and physical games with no quarter asked or given.

I believe there is nothing between the provinces.

The first contest is Cork v Galway. These are two very similar teams, and the one thing they have in common is their lack of consistency from game to game. Both are capable of beating anyone on a given day, but also not turning up on a given day.

So you see Kieran Kingston and Henry Shefflin will have a major concern about their teams: will they be in the mood or not? A big worry for both managers.

Galway manager Henry Sheflin. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Galway manager Henry Sheflin. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Cork had a work-out last week against Antrim, did what they had to do, not very convincingly, especially in the first half. They turned it on a bit in the second half and ran out very easy winners in the finish.

Remember now it was Antrim they were playing and they were nothing like the opposition they are going to meet Saturday.

First and foremost they have to be tuned in from the start. It’s no good leaving it to two or three players like they did in the first half against Antrim.

A worry for Cork was that a few players picked up knocks last week, and the loss of Robert Downey and, especially, Sean O’Donoghue, would be huge. As we know Cork are not blessed with defenders of that calibre.

Their backs will need to be on their toes here, especially guys like Ciarán Joyce, who is showing good form for someone so young, and Mark Coleman, who needs to improve in terms of not conceding scores to his man.

Galway have some good forwards the likes of Conor Cooney, Cathal Mannion, Brian Concannon and especially the man that makes them tick, Conor Whelan.

The Cork attack and midfield can do serious damage themselves when they get going and they will have to get going from the start.

Guys like Darragh Fitzgibbon, Seamus Harnedy and the two that got them out of trouble last Saturday, Robbie O’Flynn and the revitalised Conor Lehane.

I’m sure they will be getting special attention from the Galway defence. Galway were very good at the back against Kilkenny, Daithí Burke, Jack Greelish, and a strong half-back line of Padraig Mannion, Gearoid McInerney and Fintan Burke. Cork will definitely need the physicality of Alan Connolly and Tim O’Mahony.

TOUGH CALL

This is a hard game to call because we do not know what way either team will show on the day.

If both turn up this could be a cracking contest but there are a lot of ifs about both sides. Both can be big winners or big losers.

Hopefully, they will turn up and give us a contest to remember.

Anxious times for Kingston and Shefflin. I’d say neither are sure of how their teams will perform.

Cork did what they had to do against Antrim but they will need a lot more than that in this contest.

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