Sunday 24 June 2018

Defeat is not an option against Louth

NFL Division 2, Rd 3: Cork v Louth, Sunday, February 11, Páirc Uí Rinn at 2pm

Diarmuid Sheehan

Cork will step into National Football League action again next Sunday looking to continue the form that saw them win their first league fixture of the year last weekend.

Cork made the trip to Newry to take on a Down side that would have fancied their chances of taking the win, but on the day Cork showed that there are serious signs of improvement - seeing off the Ulster side by 1-13 to 0-10.

Cork manager, Ronan McCarthy, has undoubtedly taken on a huge task with Cork and after failing on day one against Tipperary the moans and groans from the stands would have been hard to ignore, but one win from two and a home game next Sunday against Louth and all of a sudden things are far from depressing.

Cork will be looking to show well in the league this season and hopefully work their way back into Division 1, but getting into the Super 8s would surely be seen as a bigger and more prestigious target for this crop of Rebels.

Next Sunday's opposition, Louth, will be keen to get back on the horse after suffering a heavy defeat away to Cavan last Sunday. After performing well and bagging 13 points the Louth men conceded three goals that ultimately killed off their chances of taking the spoils against the Breffni men.

There is little point making out that the test this weekend will be Cork's toughest of the year - because it won't. Cork need to play well and if they do they will win - and they should win well. Louth may be playing well in patches and the mini comeback that they put in last weekend against Cavan after a poor start shows that they have skills, but Cork should have far too much for them. And if Cork can get into the groove then they may be in a position to rack up a serious score that could be important in a table that looks like it could be tight right the way through.

Louth have players of the calibre of Ryan Burns and Jim McEneaney with the likes of Declan Byrne also likely to play a major part this weekend.

Burns, in particular, can cause problems and is likely to be the talisman for the visitors, but Cork will be the big draw here and the home side must perform if the loyal and success starved patrons are to be rewarded.

The likes of Colm O'Neill, Mark Collins, Sean White and Ruairí Deane will all hope to continue their recent respective good form with Collins in particular showing he is getting a real killer instinct in front of goal.

A goal and five points for Collins last weekend shows that he is clearly aware of where the posts are with O'Neill adding five points (four from placed balls) also showing he too is a force to be reckoned with when the opportunities arise.

Cork's management will probably go to the squad for players next weekend as it is hardly likely that all the big names will be required for on field duty.

Cork will win next weekend, but the performance in a game like this is every bit as important as the result. McCarthy's charges need to continue on from the second half display of last week and attempt to put in a seventy-minute effort that will first secure Division 2 status before the Rebels can look to any bigger plan as they head into the more competitive and important ties.