O’Mahony ruled out of championship opener with hamstring injury

Cork footballers must plan without one of their main forwards for the game against Clare in under five weeks
O’Mahony ruled out of championship opener with hamstring injury

Cathail O'Mahony in action for UCC in the Sigerson Cup semi-final against Niall Carolan of TUD at Cullen Park, Carlow. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile

CATHAIL O’Mahony is out of the Cork team for the opening Munster football championship quarter-final against Clare in Ennis on April 9, according to manager John Cleary.

“He had an operation last week and is gone for the rest of the league and the start of the championship,” Cleary said after his side’s eight-point victory over the same opponents in Division 2 of the league at the weekend.

The Mitchelstown player suffered a hamstring injury in helping UCC win the Sigerson Cup, having played a big part in Ballygiblin’s All-Ireland junior hurling success, too.

O’Mahony’s hectic schedule restricted him to just a couple of appearances off the bench for Cork, the last 10 minutes of the opening game against Meath and the second-half against Kildare, when he contributed 1-1.

Cork occupy third spot in the table, two points behind Dublin and four adrift of unbeaten Derry with two games remaining, away to Louth, who trail Cork on scoring difference, +39 to +6, and home to Derry.

Cleary reckons Cork are out of the promotion race even though they are still mathematically in the frame.

“I don’t know really. What we’ll do is take every game as it comes. Realistically, I’d say we aren’t.

“We still have to go to Louth and that will be a big game for us in two weeks’ time. Maybe that Meath game will come back to haunt us, the one we lost at home.

“And even the Dublin game, which on another day we could have got something out of, is the same in what is a very competitive section.” 

Cork need to finish above the Dubs because of the head-to-head and with Dessie Farrell’s side facing Meath (away) and Louth (home) it’s hard to see them slipping up.

Still, Cork protected their Division 2 status for next season with a couple of games to spare and also qualified for the All-Ireland regardless of the outcome in Munster with the finalists advancing to join the leading 16 counties for the new group style Sam Maguire Cup involving four groups of four with three to qualify for the knock-out stages.

Cork can expect another hard-hitting encounter like Sunday in front a vociferous crowd of 2,596 which will be swelled for next month’s showdown.

Mayo referee Liam Devenney had his hands full at times in keeping a lid on things, handing out yellow cards to four Clare players, including Keelan Sexton for a heavy challenge on Luke Fahy.

Cork picked up a black card via Daniel O’Mahony and yellows for Ruairi Deane, whose approach seemed to be along the lines of ‘we can dish it out, too,’ and goal-scorer Mattie Taylor.

In terms of a championship dress rehearsal, Cleary isn’t reading too much into the game. “I don’t think it will have a bearing and if anything, Clare will probably get more out of it because that generally tends to happen with the losing team.

“The learnings for us, is that if we play like that again in the first-half we mightn’t be in it for the second-half. Both teams will learn a lot in what will be a new game.” 

Last season, Cork’s survival went down to the wire against Offaly in contrast to now. “I think we’re in a different place this year compared to last.

“We were coming out of Covid and felt our fitness levels weren’t right. We had an awful lot of injuries and I think our panel is stronger now.

“The fact that we could lose two players of that calibre on Sunday still come up trumps with the players we brought in shows that we’re in a better place,” Cleary concluded.

Deane and Conor Corbett replaced the injured Brian O’Driscoll and Steven Sherlock respectively.

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