Saturday 24 March 2018

Something has gone wrong in Cork and beating Donegal is a huge ask

Cork's Peter Kelleher. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Cork's Peter Kelleher. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile newsdesk

I've suffered many times at the hands of Cork - coming out on the wrong side in my last five championship campaigns against the Rebels - and would never underestimate them because I know better.

But something has gone wrong in recent years and while they beat Longford with a second-half surge in Pearse Park, all is not well. Everything is cyclical, however, and we had the similar problems in Kerry which we worked our way out of.

I'm not sure if it's realistic for them to beat Donegal in Saturday's Qualifier, however, with a string of high-profile absentees like Brian Hurley, Ken O'Halloran, Michael Shields, James Loughrey and Barry O'Driscoll. They are all massive players but, even more importantly, they are massive leaders.

Is the pool that deep in Cork that they can afford this? I don't think it is but if that hurt and that pride in Cork football is there, they have a chance given that Donegal don't blitz teams and average only 13 scores per game.

The likes of Peter Kelleher, Michael Hurley and hurling recruit Alan Cadogan will have no fear but their defence is a huge problem. That's why they got relegated and why Tipp shocked them.

Those mental scars can eat away at players and with all the negative talk in Cork, this is likely to be too steep a mountain for them to climb.

Irish Independent

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