Go back a couple of months and you would have gotten pretty serious odds on Cork making it past a round of the qualifiers, such was the disillusion surrounding the Rebels senior football team but roll on a couple of weeks and all looks rosy in the garden for the side often forgot by Cork GAA’s loyal supporters.
unday, for the second weekend on the bounce, Cork managed to edge out championship rivals to stay in the 2022 All Ireland series and in so doing book their place in the last eight for the race for Sam Maguire.
Cork took out a dogged and improving Limerick at home on Sunday afternoon to continue a feel good factor that seems to be growing on Leeside – the boys in red have already gone further this year than their early season results could ever have suggested.
Last weekend Cork welcomed Limerick to Pairc Uí Chaoimh for a game that the men in red were highly fancied to win.
The Leesiders came into the game on the back of a dogged win the previous weekend over a Louth side that failed to show much on the day but credit to the home side they pushed through for the win – their first championship win of the season.
The game with Limerick was far from the perfect display that Cork fans would have been dreaming of – in fact the home side only led by a single point at the break and in truth could feel blessed to be leading at all, such was the closeness of the tie and the parity of quality between the sides.
At the back players of the quality of Sean Powter, Kevin O’Donovan and Mattie Taylor defended well and surged forward at every available opportunity.
The trio continued throughout and were joined in the attacking areas by of the field by both Brian Hurley and Stephen Sherlock – pace and power becoming a corner stone of what the current crop of Cork players are all about.
O’Donovan was top quality all game as was Powter who continues to improve game on game. Mallow’s Taylor again impressed and continues to be one of the mainstays of an improving Cork defensive set.
In the middle, Ian Maguire gave one of his better displays of the season while Eoghan McSweeney is fast becoming the go to guy at number 11 – another brilliant display from the centre forward.
Along with Hurley and Sherlock, Cathail O’Mahony did well up front – bagging a crucial goal when Cork needed it.
Cork looked good going forward, particularly in the second half, and should have been plenty good enough at the back to keep Limerick at bay however the Treaty men still caused Cork far too many problems for a side that are looking to go deep into the 2022 championship.
Limerick have improved game on game and have shown all that care to pay attention that they are becoming a genuine footballing county – perhaps not challengers for their county’s hurling side just yet but still a force to be reckoned with – particularly in Munster.
Limerick showed they have a fighting spirit, an eye for goal and the confidence to take their chances when they come and the men in green will now need to look to push on again in 2023 – to at least get back into the provincial final – but for now it’s back to club action for Limerick football and its players.
For Cork, its onwards and upwards for the boys in red with the opposition getting more significant from here on in.
The reward for all Cork’s improvements and efforts under interim manager John Cleary – the small matter of a trip to Croke Park for an All-Ireland Senior Football Quarter Final against the mighty Dubs – the county that has pretty much dominated football for the last decade.
Dublin will go into the tie as favourites, red hot favourites at that – after securing yet another provincial title and while the result is far from a foregone conclusion one would need to be pretty loose with their cash to splurge on a Cork win – that said, cork have shown in recent weeks that they have some really good players, they have tactics that can hold up against other sides in the middle of the pack and they have a growing sense of confidence that will take them on from the level they were playing at earlier in the year.
With just over a week to go to the clash with the Dubs at headquarters all involved with the Rebel setup will be keen to play up the positives and look to take the pressure off a host of young players that will have never played in front of a crowd anything like what they will see on Saturday week.
A big day ahead for Dublin football. A huge day for Cork football.