CORK manager John Cleary has welcomed the week’s break before the next Division 2 league game against Dublin at Pairc Ui Chaoimh on Sunday week at 3.45 with Cork playing Westmeath in hurling beforehand at 1.30.
The Rebels collected their first set of points with an eye-catching 2-14 to 0-7 win over Kildare in Newbridge at the weekend after opening with a four-point home defeat by Meath.
“It has to be a help at this stage,” Cleary intimated. “Some of the lads are playing Sigerson Cup again on Wednesday night and hopefully they will be playing a final the following Wednesday.
“They need a break next weekend, fellows like Maurice Shanley and Daniel O’Mahony and Cathail O’Mahony, who looked sharp, when coming on.”
But it’s not just the Sigerson Cup connection who can put their feet up at the weekend-MTU Cork bowed out last week at the quarter-final stage-but the group of players as a unit.
“We could see the reasons why it happened and we worked on them during the week. Thankfully, it paid dividends,” Cleary added.
He was referring to the concession of just 0-7 against a Kildare side that had pushed the Dubs to the brink a week earlier, when Cork leaked three goals to the Royals.
Dublin, Meath and Ulster champions Derry lead the way with maximum points from two outings followed by Cork and Clare on two each with Kildare, Louth and Limerick still waiting to get off the mark.
Meath boss Colm O’Rourke was scathing in his criticism of the timing of the Sigerson running side by side with the start of the league despite his side scoring four goals in the victory over Clare.
“We had six players involved and had to take five of them off. It’s the ultimate in player abuse,” O’Rourke commented.
Two of those players, Darragh Campion and Cathal Hickey started against Cork but suffered hamstring injuries while playing for TU Dublin in their 0-16 to 0-15 extra-time win over UCD in the Sigerson quarter-finals sandwiched in between the two Meath matches.
O’Rourke makes a valid point, players playing three times in a week, Sunday-Tuesday/Wednesday-Sunday so early in the season and obviously risking injury in the process.
Both Sigerson semi-finals are in Carlow on Wednesday night, UCC meeting TU Dublin at 8pm and that’s preceded by UL-DCU at 6.15. The final is in Waterford IT the following Wednesday night at 7.30.
Common ground is found in that UCC and TU Dublin both played ATU Galway en route and they produced almost identical results, the Cork students winning by 1-12 to 0-8 and their Dublin counterparts by 1-13 to 0-9.
College certainly give punters value for their buck, their last two games against Belfast opponents, Queens and St Mary’s requiring penalties to decide matters, UCC holding their nerve to record 7-6 and 3-2 victories.
What will concern Billy Morgan and his management team is their charges’ inability to hang on to leads coming down the stretch.
Apart from Shanley and the two O’Mahonys Cork also have Shane Merritt (Mallow), Mark Cronin (Nemo Rangers) and Fionn Herlihy (Dohenys) involved.
And there’s a Cork angle to the other semi-final too with DCU’s Conor Corbett (Clyda Rovers) facing his 2019 All-Ireland minor winning colleague Darragh Cashman (Millstreet) in UL colours.
It’s a big 24 hours for UCC who are also through to the Freshers semi-final against DCU in Dr Morris Park, Thurles, on Thursday at 5pm followed by UL-Maynooth University at 7pm.