Cork and Clare battle it out in the Páirc Uí Chaoimh in the second game of an attractive RTÉ double-header this Sunday.
What: Munster Hurling Championship
Who: Cork vs Clare
Where: Páirc UÍ Chaoimh, Cork.
When: Sunday 20th May. Throw in is at 4pm.
Odds: Cork 8/13, Draw 9/1, Clare 13/8.
Sunday’s meeting of Cork and Clare will be the side’s fourth since the unforgettable 2013 All Ireland Replay in 2013m with the Rebels winning the previous three.
The major question surrounding Cork is whether John Meyler can build on the success of 2017 when Kieran Kington guided a relatively unfancied team to a Munster title. Cork have had a poor league campaign, winning just one of their five round robin games, the crucial relegation final.
On a positive note, depth was added to their squad with the additions of Sean O’ Donoghue, Eoin Cadogan and Tim O’ Mahony to the defence. Robbie O Flynn and Jack O’ Connor have also been doing well when introduced in the forward line.
Alan Cadogan was a sensation in 2017 but may well miss out due to a knee injury. Newtownshandrum’s Tim O Mahony is also a major doubt with a fractured elbow and will likely not be risked with the game against Tipperary coming just one week later.
Despite having a wealth of young talent to pick from, pressure will be on Clare’s young shoulders as the Banner have been pretty disappointing since they won the All Ireland in 2013.
The move of Conor Cleary to full-back has been a fruitful one as it has allowed David McInerney to play at centre-back alongside Seadna Morey and Michael O’ Malley. Clare boasted the best defensive record in the league after these switches, which would be of great relief to Gerry O’ Connor and Donal Moloney after a poor defensive showing in 2017.
At the other end of the pitch Tony Kelly, Peter Duggan, John Conlon and Shane O’ Donnell possess the strength, pace and skill to trouble Cork in their home patch on Sunday.
If Cork’s performance descends from the heights of 2017, then Clare have a genuine chance in this one.
One suspects Cork will be inspired by the support they will receive in their first-ever hurling championship appearance in the new Pairc Ui Chaoimh. In Patrick Horgan and Conor Lehane, the Rebels have the firepower to get them over the line.