Conor Counihan revamps his forces for qualifier showdown with Galway
Cork make six changes and raft of positional switches from Munster final
Aidan Walsh (right), who featured at midfield for Cork in the Munster final against Kerry, moves to centre forward for Saturday’s qualifier against Galway in Croke Park. Photograph: james crombie/inpho
Known facts first. Cork football manager Conor Counihan has completely revamped his team for Saturday’s qualifier against Galway in Croke Park.
There are six changes and a raft of positional switches from the team that lost the Munster final to Kerry, with Graham Canty named at centre back and Aidan Walsh moved to centre forward to facilitate a new midfield combination.
Or rather an old partnership is reunited as Alan O’Connor and Pearse O’Neill are down to contest the throw-in.
That’s according to the official Cork GAA website.
Noel O’Leary, Paul Kerrigan, Donnacha O’Connor and Fintan Goold are the main players to lose out in the reshuffle.
Goalkeeper Ken O’Halloran also makes way for Alan Quirke, as a member of the 2010 All-Ireland winning team goes in the opposite direction to the four Counihan has cut.
Thomas Clancy gets the nod at corner back ahead of Paudie Kissane; Mark Collins is at wing forward in place of Goold, while Ciarán Sheehan’s return means O’Connor is dropped.
Last night’s team announcement was interesting simply because the squad Counihan named for the Munster final defeat to Kerry on July 7th had significantly changed by throw-in three days later.
Regular starters O’Leary, Walsh and O’Connor were named as substitutes despite being match fit. Sure enough, all three started, in place of Clancy, O’Neill and Patrick Kelly.
O’Neill came in at half-time, while Sheehan, another highly-rated Cork forward who was expected to start, didn’t replace O’Connor until the 55th minute.
Due to the manner of Cork’s defeat to Kerry, Counihan’s dummy team was heavily criticised. It also raises doubts about the validity of last night’s announcement.
Galway are expected to recall defender Keith Kelly for Saturday’s 5pm throw-in.
In hurling, Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy is sending a team out to face Kilkenny with a severely weakened defence. Brian Murphy is already ruled out of Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final in Thurles and now Shane O’Neill’s ongoing hip problem has further disrupted preparations.
O’Neill played full back, lasting the entire 70 minutes, in the Munster final defeat to Limerick, when he exacerbated the injury.
“We’ll leave the decision as late as possible,” said Barry- Murphy. “It’s the hip flexor muscle; we are hoping he will be okay but it is 50-50 at the moment.
“Kilkenny are Kilkenny, we know where we are at. The league final last year told us how far we need to travel to be back at that standard. I thought we played quite well against them in Nowlan Park this year, so I am hoping that will give us a bit of encouragement.