Saturday 24 August 2019

Meyler refusing to look towards Kilkenny

Cork manager John Meyler. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cork manager John Meyler. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Seán McGoldrick

Two successive Munster titles didn't set up Cork to get even as far as an All-Ireland final in the last two years, so coming in under the radar might suit the Rebels as they bid to end a 14-year wait for Liam MacCarthy.

Given they lost by 11 points to Laois last weekend, Westmeath are unlikely to be anything near Cork's quality this afternoon but, for John Meyler's team, the unusual surroundings of Cusack Park in Mullingar could provide the perfect springboard to re-establish their All-Ireland credentials.

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Should they come through today in their first game for three weeks, Cork will face Kilkenny in Croke Park next Sunday with a semi-final and then All-Ireland final on August 18 the aim.

Speaking last week, however, Meyler insisted that he wasn't making plans for anything beyond Westmeath.

"I have been around long enough now with teams like Carlow and Kerry and my knowledge of Westmeath would be good," said Meyler.

"They had men like Michael Ryan, Kilkenny's Michael Walsh and now Joe Quaid involved with them over the past few years and those fellows would have brought them on a lot.

"They have been in the last two Joe McDonagh Cup finals and they beat Kilkenny in the Leinster under 21 Championship a few years ago. Sunday's side would be backboned by a lot of those players."

Meyler has also added former midfielder and two-time All-Ireland winner Tom Kenny to the backroom staff for the rest of the season as they seek their first All-Ireland since 2005.

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With the exception of Tipperary in 2016, no reigning Munster champions have won the Liam MacCarthy Cup since Cork in 2005 while semi-final losses to Waterford and Limerick in the past two years meant there was silverware to show in the form of a Munster title but, ultimately, disappointment.

Offensively Cork have few worries and unlike Kilkenny, who have become too dependent on TJ Reid for scores, their chief marksman Patrick Horgan is by no means a one-man band.

He has contributed 46.5 per cent of their total scores compared to Reid's 61.6 per cent. Seamus Harnedy, Daniel Kearney and Alan Cadogan have also made notable contributions.

However, it's what happens at the other end of the field which has probably caused Meyler sleepless nights.

Other than Waterford, who failed to win a game in the Munster series, Cork conceded more (7-87) than any of their provincial rivals.

It's unlikely to be a problem today but, even if Meyler insists he's not looking too far ahead, it's a problem he has to solve sooner rather than later.

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