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Looking ahead to the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship: Cork

The countdown to the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship is well and truly underway! How will Cork fare this year?

In a new series on the Littlewoods Ireland Blog, we will be shining a spotlight on each team competing this summer in the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. Today, we look at Cork.

The Championship is right around the corner, so how will Cork perform this year?

Looking at last year’s form 

Last year, Cork got off to a great start. They beat Tipperary, the All Ireland Champions at the time, in the opening game of the Munster Championship. This was perhaps the shock of the Championship, as Tipperary were now out of the running for the Munster title.

They clinched the Munster title themselves, after seeing off Waterford and Clare. The next time Waterford and Cork met was in the All Ireland Semi Final. It wasn’t to be Cork’s day as Waterford defeated them and the Déise made their way to the All Ireland Final.

This year, the Rebels will have their eyes on both Munster and All Ireland titles. Do not rule them out, as they could tilt and rock this year’s Championship.

Make way for the new crop 

Kieran Kingston‘s shock decision to step down as Cork hurling manager might be a cause of worry for some. Kingston held the role for two years, and after a successful 2017, it came as a surprise when he declined the chance to renew his contract.

John Meyler will now fill his shoes. Meyler worked previously as a team selector for the Cork hurlers and he knows this team well. So far, he has retained the Division 1A status for Cork in the Allianz League.

In the first round of the League, the Rebels defeated Kilkenny and things looked off to a good start. Though, they lost the next four games. They survived the relegation play-off against Waterford, which would have been the welcome boost they needed heading into the Championship.

However, there is still work to be done.

Improvements

Cork undoubtedly have one of the strongest full forward lines in the country. With the combined talents and speed of Alan Cadogan, Patrick Horgan, Seamus Harnedy and Conor Lehane, the Cork forwards are any opposing team’s worst nightmare.

The area that Cork need to work on is their defensive structure. Last year, during the All Ireland Semi Final against Waterford, the Déise managed to find the back of Cork’s goal line four times.

One change Meyler has made to aid this issue though is bleeding in the new and fresh talent into the Cork defence line.

Sean O’Donoghue played for the U21 panel and now steps up to join the seniors. The addition of Tim O’Mahony as well is a bonus, however, it has emerged this week that he may be unable to line out in the opening stages of the Munster Championship due to an elbow injury.

John Meyler will now await results of an x-ray scan, but should the fracture be confirmed, O’Mahony could be ruled out for up to 8 weeks.

Old Kids Back on the Block

If Cork are trying to work on their defensive system, their wish is granted as it was announced just before Christmas that Eoin Cadogan will be returning to the Cork hurlers.

The dual star left the Hurling panel in 2014 in favour of the Cork footballers, but this year he will return. It will be great to see Cadogan back hurling for Cork, he is a positive addition that the Cork centre back line will be glad to have.

Last year, also saw the return of Michael Cahalane. He stepped away from the Cork panel in 2014, after issues with his health. He had contracted a viral infection and an enlarged heart, forcing him to call it a day.

In 2017, however, he was given the green light to return. He came on as a super sub for Cork and scored a brilliant goal against Tipperary in Round 1 of the Munster Championship, and ultimately securing a victory for the Rebels. He will definitely make an impact again this summer.

Looking Ahead

Cork will begin their Munster Championship campaign on the 20th of May in an opening match against Clare.

Do not rule this Cork team out for the Championship. If they remain level-headed and play to their full potential, they stand a real chance at Munster and All Ireland titles.

John Meyler will certainly have points to prove.

 

Littlewoods Ireland are proud sponsors of the All Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. Keep yourself up to date with all the #StyleOfPlay here!

Ellen McConville

Typically found on the sidelines or in Croke Park, Ellen is the Sports Content Editor for Littlewoods Ireland and your go-to gal for all things GAA. A big lover of all things Christy Moore, fashion and some wine and cheese as well.

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