Cork still strong enough to end Wexford’s campaign

Home advantage may not be enough to spur Model County on to a crucial victory

Séamus Harnedy: the return of their primary ball-winner will be a significant boost to Jimmy McCarthy’s Cork side. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Séamus Harnedy: the return of their primary ball-winner will be a significant boost to Jimmy McCarthy’s Cork side. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

 

This is the qualifier that appears to hold out the best chance of an upset. That perception rests on Cork’s tailspin in recent times and the – at times exaggerated – reputation of the venue as being a source of infinite possibility for Wexford.

That was helped by the replay defeat of All-Ireland champions Clare last year.

There’s little in the home team’s performances to suggest a reprise is likely but against a side as fragile as Cork have become, there will be hope. When the teams met in the league quarter-finals, Wexford’s defensive work was excellent and instrumental in building a six-point lead at the break.

Though that was overhauled in a subdued second half it must feed optimism that they were so competitive even in Cork.

They’ll need the same defensive robustness on Saturday so a big improvement on the tentative effort put in against Kilkenny. Liam Dunne’s team will be better than that but Cork should also improve with the return from injury of their main ball winner Séamus Harnedy.

The visitors have difficulties at the back, missing half of their first-choice defence at this stage and Aidan Walsh is shuttled in to bolster the half backs.

Home advantage could help Wexford catch fire but they are labouring under too many form outages. Neither Liam McGovern nor Conor McDonald are generating the electricity of last year up front and Lee Chin is being stretched around the field.

Cork have their own issues but perhaps not enough to trip them up here.

Last meeting: All-Ireland SHC qualifiers phase three, Thurles Cork 3-24, Wexford 2-17.
Odds: Wexford 3/1, Cork 1/3 and 10/1 the draw.
Injuries: Cork are missing defenders Shane O’Neill and Lorcán McLoughlin plus long- term absentee Chris Joyce.
Suspension: None
Just the ticket: €15 and juveniles €5. Concession available for students and senior citizens.
WEXFORD: M Fanning; L Ryan, M O’Hanlon, E Moore; A Shore, L Chin, P Foley; D Redmond, A Nolan; D O’Keeffe, K Foley, I Byrne; P Morris , C McDonald, L McGovern.
CORK: A Nash; D Cahalane, S McDonnell, B Murphy; A Walsh, M Ellis, C Murphy; D Kearney, B Cooper; C Lehane, P Cronin, B Lawton; A Cadogan, S Harnedy, P Horgan.
Referee: Alan Kelly (Galway)
Verdict: Cork

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