Cork's depth to be tested as Rebel county target third consecutive Munster title
Cork star Seamus Harnedy limping back onto the field in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final showed a lack of panel depth, according to Vincent Hogan - but he believes the Rebel county may have unearthed new players since then.
Cork wilted down the stretch against Limerick last August in the final four clash, eventually going down to the Treaty county in extra time.
Questions marks were raised about whether they have the strength in depth needed to win an All-Ireland title, and Vincent Hogan, chief sports writer of the Irish Independent, thinks that is a key question they need to answer this summer.
"We saw Seamus Harnedy coming out for extra time in Croke Park limping, and this is the debate, have Cork found new players," Hogan said on The Throw-In podcast.
Hogan admits while Cork didn’t have the same calibre of replacements to match Limerick in last year’s semi-final, the rebels can still push for three Munster titles in-a-row with new U21 personnel.
"I think John Meyler used thirty-two players in this League, so he was looking at players. They didn’t set out to win the League, they seldom do," added Hogan.
Irish Independent GAA reporter Michael Verney agreed that Cork used the league to find players, with Jack O’Connor and Tim O’Mahony two possible championship inclusions.
"They’ve picked up one or two players, the likes of Jack O’Connor throughout the League; Tim O’Mahoney looks like he’s going to come into the defence," said Verney.
"I think Cork have put all their eggs into the Championship basket and they’re the one team that have showed in the last couple of years that they can put it up to Limerick."
Hogan expressed concern over Meyler’s men’s collapse against Tipperary during the league, but, he believes their gutsy win against the reigning All-Ireland champions was more telling of their summer credentials.
"The game down in Pairc Ui Rinn against Tipp was like a non-contact sport, there was no aggression that day against Tipp," Hogan said.
"But you compare that to their performance in the Gaelic Grounds, against Limerick, where they beat Limerick… Limerick twice came back and Cork twice kicked on."
Hogan believes that the Rebels are serious contenders given that they are the two-time Munster Champions, and because they pushed Limerick all the way in their drawn Munster match and their classic Croke Park match last year.
"We all remember Nicky Quaid’s extraordinary intervention, when Seamus Harnedy was swinging for what would have been the winning goal, they are right there on the money," he said.
A further boost to Meyler’s camp is the return of seasoned forward Alan Cadogen, who Hogan hails as one of the best forwards in the land.
"A big, big plus for Cork this year, Alan Cadogen is back, who is for me, one of the best forwards in the country.
"I love his style, the aggression with which he goes for the ball. My young fellow plays corner forward for Kilmacud Crokes, that’s the guy I’d like him to be like."