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Rebels have power to snuff out Saffron surprise



(Croke Park, Tomorrow 2.0, RTé2)

DINNY CAHILL's new Antrim avengers return to the capital for the second week running, doubtless feeling good about the world.

Meanwhile, Cork must bring their battered bodies and bruised egos back into battle just eight days after another energy-sapping extra-time duel with Waterford.

When you put it like that, surely the prospect of a quarter-final earthquake is not as bizarre as Antrim's 8/1 odds might suggest? This observer begs to differ, however.

Yes, Cork are weakened by the loss of their hamstrung trio, Shane O'Neill, Seán óg ó hAilpín and Jerry O'Connor. Yes, there are renewed doubts about Denis Walsh's elder statesmen after their two less-than-convincing displays against Waterford.

Yet if you go through the team that Walsh is still able to pick, it beggars belief that they won't have enough in the tank against Antrim.

That may seem gratuitously unfair to a team that has just stunned Dublin, having come within an injury-time Offaly free of doing likewise to the Faithful two months ago.

But here's the rub: Antrim didn't have to be that blindingly brilliant or even gung-ho to ambush the dithering Dubs.

The latter were lackadaisical for most of the first half and still found themselves six up (and seemingly cruising) after a scoring spurt in the 15 minutes after half-time.

The subsequent Antrim comeback was impressive, for sure, but still has to be judged in the context of Dublin's abject fadeout (just one point in the last 20 minutes) and the reeking suspicion of Sky Blue complacency.

Now, maybe Cork could make the same fatal mistake against unheralded Antrim but it's unlikely.

Collectively, they have a point to prove post-Waterford. The same applies, individually, to the promoted pair of Ray Ryan and Paudie O'Sullivan. Cahill has had the good sense, this week, not to wind up Cork with suggestions that they've a "dreadful" centre-forward or a "finished" full-forward (as he did in 2004) but he won't have the last laugh either.

ODDS: Cork 1/14, Draw 16/1, Antrim 8/1


CORK: D óg Cusack; S Murphy, E Cadogan, B Murphy; J Gardiner, R Curran, R Ryan; T Kenny, C Naughton; B O'Connor, M Cussen, N McCarthy; P O'Sullivan, A ó hAilpín, K Murphy.

ANTRIM: C O'Connell; K McGourty, C Donnelly, S Delargy; P Shiels, J Campbell, C Herron; S McNaughton, K Stewart; S McCrory, N McManus, T McCann; PJ O'Connell, L Watson, K McKeegan.