It’s difficult to bet against champions Kilkenny as Cork face a huge task
Clare get a tentative vote to see off inconsistent Galway in the other quarter-final
Richie Hogan has started to come to the fore for Kilkenny and will pose a huge threat to Cork’s defence at Thurles. Photo: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
The appetite has been well and truly whetted by what has been served up on the hurling fields so far this summer. Tomorrow’s All-Ireland quarter-finals will likely be a continuation of what has been a fantastic championship so far, with all four teams involved able fighting for redemption.
Dublin and Limerick will be watching eagerly to see what unfolds.
We are still in July and yet old rivals Cork and Kilkenny already are set to lock horns. .
I had high hopes for Cork going into the Munster final with Limerick but was ultimately disappointed in what they produced that day, particularly up front. While they were down to 14 men after Pat Horgan’s dismissal, they were unable to cope with the physicality of Limerick who were totally driven. In their defence, Limerick probably played the best hurling of anybody this year in that provincial final.
Kilkenny have taken some serious steps along a novel route in getting to this stage but this is Cork’s first shot at redemption. It would be a major coup if they could take Kilkenny’s scalp and get into an All-Ireland semi-final.
I thought before the Munster final they would manage without Brian Murphy, that he wouldn’t be such a big loss. I was wrong. Murphy’s absence proved to be huge and will likely be again. Against that, Shane O’Neill has been named in the team but it is important that he is fully fit.
In that Munster final, Cork had real problems from their half-back line and midfield up and, between Christopher Joyce and Lorcan McLoughlin, struggled to find a dominant centre-half back to cope with Limerick’s James Ryan. And Cork’s forwards came up very short, Séamus Harnedy apart in the first half and Pa Cronin in the second. The rest of them were very poor on the day and were easily held.
Cork had plenty of chances in the first half but were wasteful. Players like Luke O’Farrell and Conor Lehane, who were expected to be the main scoring threat, were replaced. It is a big ask for Cork to turn it around. It would be the performance of the year if they were to do it.
They seemed to produce a decent performance against Clare but Clare didn’t subsequently frank that form to be honest and struggled to get over Wexford the last day.
Cork were relegated in the league and there are doubts about the form of the Clare win. For me, it is a big ask to expect them to beat a Kilkenny team who have come through a really hard route.
This Kilkenny team is not anything like the team of 2010 or 2011. They slipped back a little last year from those incredibly high performance levels and have slipped back more this year. They’ve only scored one goal from play in five and a half matches (including the extra-time against Waterford). It’s their defence that has kept them in contention.