Key dates for the Cork sports fan's 2023 diary

Ger McCarthy offers up some important dates for your sporting diary ahead of another bumper year.
Key dates for the Cork sports fan's 2023 diary

Cork’s Shane Kingston with Noel McGrath of Tipperary last season. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

Saturday, January 14: Munster Women’s Rugby 

Defending champions Munster welcome arch-rivals Leinster to Musgrave Park in the second round of the 2023 Vodafone Women’s Interprovincial Championship.

The defending Vodafone interprovincial title holders will have already faced Ulster prior to Leinster’s visit in what should be an equally difficult test of new Munster coach Niamh Brigg’s side.

Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Picture: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Last year’s corresponding fixture at Energia Park was a physical affair, to put it mildly. Admirably, Munster rebounded from 7-0 down to win 19-7 and become inter-pro senior champions.

Another equally hard-hitting and bruising matchup is anticipated in mid-January. The outcome of Munster and Leinster’s clash could go a long way to deciding who emerges as 2023 champions.

Sunday, January 22: Cork ladies footballers 

Year two of Shane Ronayne’s tenure as Cork LGFA senior manager starts with a trip to Mayo in the opening round of the Lidl National Division 1 Football League.

2022 was the year of shock quarter-final results in the TG4 All-Ireland LGFA senior championship. On the same weekend, Dublin lost to Donegal, Armagh went down to Kerry and Cork capitulated to Mayo in Ennis.

Now, a new look Cork senior panel will attempt to right some of the wrongs from their previous campaign, beginning with Mayo, the team that ended their 2022 All-Ireland aspirations.

Mayo will be just as eager to lay down an early season marker with Geelong AFLW star Rachel Kearns amongst the Connacht side’s ranks for 2023.

As for Cork, eradicating the memory of last year’s 2-13 to 0-17 All-Ireland quarter-final loss would act as the perfect springboard in the opening game of a long inter-county season.

Sunday, January 29: Cork footballers 

Irrespective of Cork’s results in the McGrath Cup (including a meeting with All-Ireland champions Kerry) all eyes will be on John Cleary’s senior footballers when they take the field against Meath at the end of January.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh plays host to an Allianz National Football League Division 2 opener in which Cleary and his players will be as anxious as Cork’s supporters to get off to a positive start.

An extended panel has been put through their paces by Cleary and his management team including Kevin Walsh (Coach) and former Olympian Rob Heffernan (Performance Coach) throughout the winter months.

We are unlikely to see any discernible patterns of play or individual players acclimatising to specific roles until later on in Cork’s league campaign.

Yet, the sight of former All-Ireland winner and RTÉ Sunday Game pundit Colm O’Rourke patrolling the side-lines should add to what is always a feisty affair between two sides desperate to get back to Division 1.

Saturday, February 4: Cork hurlers 

New Cork senior hurling manager Pat Ryan will have had a good look at his panel during the Munster Hurling League throughout the month of January.

Ryan’s first real test couldn’t be much tougher. The visit of reigning All-Ireland champions and four-in-a-row chasing Limerick to Páirc Uí Chaoimh for an Allianz Hurling League fixture should attract a large attendance.

Last year’s clash at the TUS Gaelic Grounds saw a brace of Shane Kingston goals and eight Patrick Horgan points help Cork register a 2-19 to 1-13 victory. Kingston and Seamus Flanagan were issued red cards in what was a sometimes niggly encounter.

First impressions of the new Cork manager and his team’s approach should make for fascinating viewing. Expect plenty of fireworks too under floodlights at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on February 4.

Thursday, July 20: Republic of Ireland women’s team

Yes, I know it is a long way off but the start of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup cannot come fast enough for Irish players or supporters.

Match two of the global event sees Vera Pauw’s Republic of Ireland team facing joint-hosts Australia in Sydney on the opening day of the tournament.

That’s quickly followed by additional Group B clashes against Canada (July 26) and Nigeria (July 31) before the knockout stages begin on August 5.

Ireland’s Megan Connolly on the ball. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Ireland’s Megan Connolly on the ball. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Favourable kick-off times coupled with potentially four Leeside representatives, Saoirse Noonan, Denise O’Sullivan, Megan Connolly and Éabha O’Mahony, could work wonders for the game both inside and outside of Cork.

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