Illness and injury narrow Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s options for Cork’s Munster showdown with Clare
Rebels aiming to avenge relegation play-off defeat to the Banner County
Cork’s Pa Cronin: has been laid low by a bout of pneumonia in recent weeks. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
So much for having the longest and presumably least taxing run into the championship, as the Cork hurlers have been badly hit by both injury and illness ahead of Sunday’s Munster semi-final showdown against Clare.
Manager Jimmy Barry Murphy won’t finalise his team until tomorrow evening, although Brian Murphy will wear the captain’s armband, the experienced defender taking over the duties for the day from Pa Cronin, who has been sidelined for the past number of weeks due to pneumonia.
Cronin ended up in hospital, such was the severity of his illness, and although recovering well and hopeful of playing some role on Sunday, his lack of match fitness is another setback for Cork. Midfielder Lorcan McLoughlin remains doubtful due to shoulder ligament damage, and of course already gone for the season is forward Paudie O’Sullivan, who broke his leg in a club game.
Sunday’s game at the Gaelic Grounds is Cork’s first competitive outing since the division 1A relegation play-off back on April 14th, where they lost out to Clare, after extra-time, 0-31 to 2-23. Indeed that was the sides’ third meeting of the season, with Clare winning them all (including the Waterford Crystal semi-final, and their regular league meeting).
Also gone from last year’s Cork panel are Eoin Cadogan (concentrating on football), Darren Sweetman (concentrating on rugby) and the retired Seán Óg Ó hAilpín.
Clare, who have already impressed with an eight-point win over Waterford, are seeking a first win over Cork in the Munster championship since the 1998 semi-final, having lost the last six meetings since.
Waterford, meanwhile, will start Saturday evening’s opening round of the All-Ireland qualifiers against Offaly without young forward Brian O’Halloran, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season with ankle ligament damage. O’Halloran was carrying the injury into the Clare game, and only lasted 17 minutes before being replaced by Ray Barry. Better news for manager Michael Ryan is that Richie Foley, Shane Fives and Jamie Nagle are all available for selection after recent injury.
Offaly will have home advantage in Tullamore but manager Ollie Baker, keen to build on the strong showing against Kilkenny, must plan without Cathal Parlon, who is ruled out with a hand injury sustained in the 0-26 to 4-9 defeat to the All-Ireland champions in the Leinster quarter-final.
Finally, Tyrone’s worst fears have been realised with confirmation yesterday that goalkeeper Niall Morgan will miss the rest of the championship due to the knee ligament injury sustained while playing midfield for his club, Edendork, on Sunday.
Veteran goalkeeper Pascal McConnell is now set to resume his position, although manager Mickey Harte must also plan without defender PJ Quinn, who has opted out of the panel. Defender Joe McMahon is also facing a battle to be fit for the Offaly game after spraining his ankle.