THE big game of the weekend has Cork and Kerry as a curtain-raiser to the hurling clash in Cusack Park on Sunday in the Munster Intermediate final with a 12pm throw-in.
Kerry are coming into this game on the back of a hugely successful Very Division 2 A league where they came on top of a thrilling encounter with Meath to take the county’s first League Division 2A title.
This year they are under a new management team and Pat Ryan’s side have yet to lose a game, having reached the quarter-finals last year, they have steadily built on the experienced gained.
Winning the league has been a huge boost. They have added a lot of young players. Experienced campaigners Sara Murphy at full-back, Niamh Leen at centre-back, and stand-out scoring aces Patrice Diggin and Jackie Horgan will spearhead their challenge. Laura Collins, Ellen O’Donoghue, Aoife Behan and Kate Lynch bring good balance to the side.
They continue to build on having played two All-Ireland Junior finals in Croke Park. Despite losing to Dublin in 2018 they bounced back to beat Limerick.
Backboned by the strong Clanmaurice players, they were excellent in the league this season. They drew with Westmeath but had victories over Meath, Cavan, Derry and Laois before going on to contest the final defeating Meath.
Cork participated the Division 2B and took the league title in a game that went to a reply with Kilkenny.
Captain Rachel Harty, Leanne O'Sullivan, Niamh O'Leary, Laura Doyle, Lauren Homan, Cliona O'Callaghan and Aisling Moloney are key while Fiona Nelligan has shown well in all games when introduced.
This year it was a new-look league for Cork with just five second teams participating. In championship, they will meet much stronger opponents and first-choice teams.
Cork were due to face Kildare in round one, though there have been major and well-documented issues up there in recent weeks, and Kildare pulled out.
Kerry overcame Clare 0-14 to 0-12 to book their place in the final. With only three teams entered in the Munster championship cork went straight to the final. Last season Cork and Kerry played out a cracking game in Páirc Uí Chaoimh with Cork coming away with the title.
Cork continued their winning streak as they recorded their second win in the round-robin series of the All-Ireland U16 A championships with an impressive 4-12 to 1-5 win over Wexford last weekend.
Galway overcame Tipperary 2-15 to 0-8, Limerick edged out Kilkenny with a point to spare 2-6 to 1-8. Cork top the group with two wins from two, Galway having recorded a draw in their opening game against Wexford are in second place with Tipperary and Limerick in joint third.
This weekend Cork host Kilkenny.
Tipperary re at home for their meeting with Wexford and Galway travel to Limerick.
With three rounds played after this weekend, there will be a break until after the state exams with two rounds after that.