Monday 20 November 2017

O'Connor slams club fixture 'madness'

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

CORK attacker Donncha O'Connor has slammed his county's decision to play club championship games so close to Sunday's Allianz Football League Division 1 final as "madness".

The Rebels are the reigning league and All-Ireland title holders and dearly want to maintain their winning habit, but Cork have delayed naming their team due to injury concerns over Aidan Walsh, Paul Kerrigan and Ciaran Sheehan. O'Connor, who recently had treatment for a groin strain, is unimpressed by the county schedule.

"We had club championship there and they played it all within two weeks. Some lads had three games in two weeks," he said. "Two games in two weeks, in the middle of the league, madness, and that's how a couple more lads picked up injuries, because they had to play again on Monday night." Sheehan was one of the casualties of Monday night and manager Conor Counihan will give his players as long as possible to prove their fitness.

Whatever team they select, there's no doubt the Rebels will be fired up to lay down a marker for the season against the Dubs. They got the verdict by a point in last year's All-Ireland semi-final but Dublin clipped Cork's wings with a league win under lights at Croke Park in their Spring Series.

It sets the stage for a quality game and there is one certainty -- Cork won't enjoy as one-sided a match as they did in last year's league final against Mayo.

"Dublin are the form team at the moment looking at their league performances, and the night we played them they gave us a bit of a hiding, so it would be nice to lay down a marker early," said O'Connor.

"You try to get to the league final so you can have one very good game before you get to the championship.

"Getting to the league final is a major boost for both teams, but I don't think whoever wins or loses the league it's going to have a major impact on their championship."

Cork's famed rivalry with Kerry is fast being matched by their clashes against Dublin, and playing the Blues at Croke Park adds an extra edge.

"You would be aware of that, yes, especially when it is on in Croke Park." said O'Connor.

"Personally, any game I play in Croke Park I'd be well up for it, because I spent years dreaming of playing there -- no matter who you are playing against."

Irish Independent

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