Cork hoping for positive omens in Munster Hurling League final

Rebels clash with Tipperary at 3pm on Sunday in Páirc Uí Rinn
Cork hoping for positive omens in Munster Hurling League final

Cork’s Cormac Beausang holds possession as Aaron Costello of Limerick tries to challenge him in last Sunday's Co-op SuperStores Munster Hurling League clash at Pairc Uí Rinn. Picture: Inpho/Evan Treacy

IF Cork are to emerge victorious from tomorrow’s Co-op SuperStores Munster Hurling League final against Tipperary in Páirc Uí Rinn (3pm), they will hope that it proves to be a good omen.

The Rebels have only claimed the season-opening provincial competition once before, in 2017, when Limerick were beaten in the final at the Gaelic Grounds.

Part of Kieran Kingston’s successful team for that 1-21 to 1-20 win over the Shannonsiders – Alan Cadogan scored a late winning goal – were youngsters Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Luke Meade and Shane Kingston.

While Coleman and Kingston had come off the bench for Cork’s All-Ireland SHC qualifier loss to Wexford in July 2016, all four were essentially greenhorns and the quartet were given their first championship starts as the Rebels surprised All-Ireland champions Tipperary in the Munster SHC quarter-final in May 2017. Wins over Waterford and Clare secured Munster glory – while we can’t say for certain that the pre-season title was a factor in that, it can’t have done any harm.

Having succeeded Kingston as manager, new Cork boss Pat Ryan is assessing his options with the Allianz Hurling League looming and last week’s win over Limerick – also Cork’s opening league opponents – brought them to the final. In terms of another competitive outing, it’s an ideal setting in which to evaluate newcomers.

“We would have had a challenge game lined up for next week and this is a much more competitive game, where you can judge fellas better,” he said after the one-point victory at Páirc Uí Rinn last Sunday.

“Obviously, we’ve a good few fellas involved with us – 38, 40 lads, that kind of way. 

That’ll have to be cut down during the league, so this gives us a great opportunity to look at players in a game that’s viable.”

In three games to date – two in this competition and the Canon O’Brien Cup win against UCC – Cork have used a total of 39 players, with only four (captain Seán O’Donoghue, Robert Downey, Tommy O’Connell and Conor Lehane) starting all three.

WIDE

Obviously, some of those being blooded were younger players who will see inter-county action at U20 level rather than senior this year and others won’t make the grade but it’s a sign from Ryan and his management team that they are willing to spread the net wide in the hope of finding some players that can be developed and refined.

Now that the final is here and there are just 13 days until Limerick visit Páirc Uí Chaoimh for a Saturday night league clash, Cork might veer more towards the probables than the possible but there is a pathway there for any young turks who can work their way into the plans of the management.

Another good showing with silverware up for grabs won’t do their chances any harm.

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