Banner bear brunt of returning Rebels

NOT YOUR common-or-garden NHL clash tomorrow in Ennis, as Cork’s 2008 players return to the fold after the lengthy dispute on Leeside for the league encounter with Clare.

Cork’s interim manager John Considine and his selectors have retained one starter from the 2009 panel introduced by former boss Gerald McCarthy, corner-back Conor O’Sullivan of Sarsfields. The rest of the Cork team is made up of the 2008 panel, which also provides most of the substitutes, though Barry Johnson, Chris Murphy and Tadhg Óg Murphy from Gerald McCarthy’s early-season side are also on the bench.

The tactical talking point for Cork supporters is likely to be the placement of Eoin Cadogan at full-back in the absence of Diarmuid O’Sullivan. Cadogan is better known as a half-back and wore number six for last season’s league clash against Limerick.

Cork have obviously been in the news for off-field reasons in recent months but they are also in serious relegation trouble, having lost their league games to Dublin, Tipperary and Galway. However, they will find Clare in uncharitable mood, as the Banner are also facing the drop.

Despite impressing early on this year, annexing the Waterford Crystal trophy, Clare have lost to Limerick, Waterford and Tipperary in the league. The seven-point defeat at home in Ennis to the Déise a particular blow, but Clare trained hard the day before that game, something they’re unlikely to repeat for Cork’s visit.

They’re boosted by the return of Brian O’Connell for his first game of the league, having spent some time travelling in Australia; the Clare skipper lines out at midfield alongside the impressive Pat Vaughan.

O’Connell isn’t the only player short on competitive action in Cusack Park tomorrow — 14 Cork players are in the same boat — and though they have trained away in recent months, their match fitness cannot be at Clare’s level. Those unusual circumstances make this the most difficult game of the weekend to call in terms of a result.

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