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Counihan bloods young Rebels

THERE was a certain resignation about Cork last year after their All-Ireland semi-final exit to Donegal – that for all their League dominance and extreme competitiveness of the past three seasons, something significant needed to change for the Rebels to kick on once more.

Conor Counihan remained, though he reaped change in his backroom team. Five Championship debutantes is quite an amount for one team, although those who followed the Under-21 championship closely this year will be suitably au fait with the credentials of the likes of Damien Cahalane, John O'Rourke and Brian Hurley.

Of perhaps greater long-term significance are the stories emerging from Leeside that the Cork boss is also drastically adjusting his methods of play. And the Cork dogs in the street reckon that by the time they set up a Munster semi-final with Kerry, having taken Limerick out tonight, they will be better equipped to suffocate football's market leaders.

Either way, they're likely to get a greater test of their early-season resolve than usual tonight in the Gaelic Grounds, even if Limerick's threat isn't as pronounced as it once was.

Donal O'Sullivan (goalkeeper) and Bobby O'Brien (midfield) both make their debut for the Treaty County.

Limerick should make it uncomfortable, but Cork will make it through safely.

ODDS: Limerick 8/1, Draw 14/1, Cork 1/10