GAA Expert & Columnist
Jamesie O'Connor column: Cork need to take care of business
Last Updated: 07/06/19 10:39am
Sky Sports analyst Jamesie O'Connor looks ahead to the weekend's hurling action, including Cork vs Waterford which will be live on Sky Sports.
There was a sense that Cork left an All-Ireland behind them last year. If they reached the final, I think they would have beaten Galway.
But they didn't. The reality is that since 2013, this team hasn't been back to a decider. Who would have thought that given how close they were six years ago?
Regardless of Waterford's woes, Cork need to take care of business on Saturday night.
This Déise team beat them in the 2017 All-Ireland semi-final, and it was a serious battle last year even when Waterford had nothing to play for. They gave Cork bags of it - it was a cracking game.
So the Rebels can't just assume that it's a case of turning up.
John Meyler shook it up the last day. He made a couple of changes. It sent a message to the squad. Now the players that got their starting positions know have a job to keep those jerseys.
Stephen McDonnell came on and did well against Limerick. Colm Spillane is on the way back from injury. To me, he's arguably one of their best defenders. Christopher Joyce didn't start the last day. Tim O'Mahony was dropped. So Cork have probably the type of depth now that they needed to find.
I see the Rebels going out now and treating it the way Limerick did last Sunday - there's a job to be done.
They've to make sure they have as positive a scoring difference as they possibly can, because it could come down to that in the Munster table.
Munster Hurling Championship table
Another high stakes clash for Limerick and Clare
Clare have seven days to bounce back from a disappointing home defeat when they take on Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds. But Cork showed it can be done.
Clare vs Limerick is a local rivalry. In fact, it's the local rivalry. Limerick came out of Ennis last year with their bubble well and truly burst.
The Treaty will feel they owe Clare big time. The Banner have beaten them in the championship in each of the last three years.
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The results so far mean that the stakes are even higher. The exit door is facing both of these teams if they lose.
From a Clare perspective, they need to have something to bring into the Cork game. Their season now is hanging by a thread.
I don't see Clare getting a result on Sunday, but they have to get a performance there and they have to see some bit of a return to form from their key players. That's the challenge of the new system. We saw it with Tipp last year. If some of your top players don't have form, there's no time to find it.
You can't go back to the clubs, you don't have a chance to play A v B training matches. It's all about recovery.
Last year's All-Stars, Peter Duggan and John Conlon in particular, just aren't firing yet. If it continues, it's curtains for Clare.
Kilkenny and Galway lock horns once again
There was a sense that Kilkenny were vulnerable for their opener against Dublin, given the personnel they were missing.
But when they had to dig deep, they raised their urgency and intensity levels.
Kilkenny won't lack for motivation given what happened in Salthill and in the Leinster final replay last year.
To me, Kilkenny are real contenders. Nowlan Park is one of the toughest places to go in hurling.
But the Cats are under pressure too. Should they lose, they'll be heading to Wexford Park needing a win because results elsewhere could conspire to see them finish fourth in Leinster.
Galway look like a team that aren't playing with the confidence you'd expect.
I think it was important for the Tribesmen to have two weeks to lead into the Kilkenny match. They needed the break in terms of getting together and fixing some of the problems that were evident in Pearse Stadium against Wexford.
Up front, Galway have to get more out of Conor Cooney and Cathal Mannion. Without Joe Canning, they both need to up their games.
I think Kilkenny will win this weekend, unless we see a considerable improvement from Galway.
Sky Sports' live GAA coverage continues on Saturday, June 8 as Cork host Waterford in the Munster Hurling Championship.