CORK’S third and penultimate home game in the league offers the opportunity of a first set of points against familiar foes who are bottom of the table.
They met in round 2 of the qualifiers last summer with Cork winning a tough encounter by 2-18 to 1-16 and more recently Brian Hurley lifted the McGrath Cup following a 0-19 to 2-7 victory.
Limerick couldn’t have been handed a tougher start, away to Derry and home to Dublin, but losing to fellow promoted Louth last week was a blow.
Former Cork skipper Ian Maguire experienced his own low against Dublin when shown a red card for the first time in a red jersey, two yellow cards for three fouls.
“The first yellow came from a double tackle with Rory Maguire and I thought the foul was going to be on him not me,” the St Finbarr’s midfielder said at the launch of Cork GAA’s partnership with Cork ARC Cancer Support House.
“The referee said it was a second tick which is a yellow card, something I didn’t know. That was my disbelief.
“For the second yellow, I knew I had made a mistake even though it wasn’t cynical, more an accidental pull of the jersey.
“I walked away thinking it was just a free and then I saw red. It was extremely frustrating and gutting because I had to leave a big game early, but I also felt I let the team down.
I put myself in those positions and must take full accountability for that.
"From Cork’s perspective, it was two points dropped and it wasn’t a nice position to be in.
“I take full blame for it. Now, it’s dusting myself down and getting ready to right the wrongs on Sunday. That’s what sport is about in a lot of ways. You can’t dwell on it that much.”
Despite defeats by Meath and the Dubs with a fine win over Kildare in Newbridge sandwiched in between, there’s a feelgood factor about Cork football, which Maguire concurs.
“We’re obviously improving. We had a good winter’s training, a good McGrath Cup, and a bit of an up-and-down league, but we feel we’re moving in the right direction.
“Sunday’s performance was very promising and the impact off the bench was huge which is how you build championship-winning teams.
“It’s a big bonus having the likes of Ruairi Deane, Conor Corbett, and Killian O’Hanlon coming on and seeing how strongly we finished. The vibe in the camp is good.
The big difference from last season, I reckon, is the lag from Covid is over after a mix of club and county games.
“There was a strength and conditioning element missing, but this time we’ve had a proper inter-county pre-season and that’s been a factor.
“Another is John Cleary’s experience, players added to the panel, new and old faces, and we’ve a new coach in Kevin Walsh.
“It’s a fresh voice, an inter-county voice and you learn different things both on and off the pitch. Kevin is also coming from a different style of football, Connacht compared to Munster, and it’s been fresh.”
While others glance at the bigger picture in terms of Sam Maguire Cup qualification, the experienced midfielder stressed it’s all about the next game, round four of seven.
“The league is a marathon with seven games in quick succession and the next game is the most important one.
“We had a good performance in certain aspects against Dublin, but we have to move on and we need a good performance against Limerick which will be another huge battle.”