O’Sullivan believes Cork can hit top gear when it matters

THEY have relied on their wits and battling qualities to escape from several matches this season, but Cork minor football selector Donal O’Sullivan is confident that there is a complete performance in his team in tomorrow’s ESB All-Ireland MFC semi-final against Galway in Croke Park.

“We’ve showed flashes of it this year in the first-half against Tipperary and Kerry, and the second-half against Armagh. But we’ve never got a complete performance. We know it’s in the team and we must make sure we get it out tomorrow,” he said.

“We were more than dramatic winners against Armagh, we were haunted. Many people will say we’re in bonus territory now but we have total honesty of approach with this team. They never gave up against Armagh and the fact that we have such a strong, evenly-balanced panel was shown in that game. But Galway are a big and physical side.

“They have an outstanding centre-forward in Peadair O Griofa and play a direct brand of football.”

Galway manager Gerry Fahy believes the narrow quarter-final win over Longford will instil confidence in his side after their Connacht final loss to Mayo.

“It was a boost to confidence. I genuinely think that up to that match, there was a lot of anxiety about our team because everyone wanted to do something – win a Connacht title, get to Croke Park. Since the win over Longford, though, I have seen such a difference in everybody in training. So, I am hoping that will show itself again on Sunday.

“That we will go and have a cut at this match. This game will be a test for both Cork and Galway. Really, you don’t know how these games are going to pan out on the day. Cork are a good side. I saw a DVD of their All-Ireland quarter-final. They conceded 19 points, but they still won the match. They just kept plugging away.”

Both sides have made changes from their quarter-final victories. Galway have made four switches as Colm MacDonnacha, Mark Loughnane and Jack Vaughan come into the defence for Phillip Ezergalis, Fiach O’Bearra and Tom Curran, while Thomas Flynn’s return to midfield sees Cathal O’Neill make way.

Cork boss Brian Cuthbert makes three alterations with James Goggin in for Kevin Fulignati in defence, Matthew O’Shea’s introduction sees Kevin Sheehan make way and Mark Sugrue replaces Thomas Hegarty.

The positional switches made by both teams could be key. Peadair O Griofa is Galway’s danger man up front and he has been stationed at corner-forward where the Cork defence will need to police him carefully. Left corner-forward Shane Maughan is another attacking livewire while they have a strong midfield pairing in Eoghan Commins and Thomas Flynn.

But Cork are strong in this department as well with Damien Cahalane’s deployment around the middle likely to benefit the team. Matthew O’Shea, Diarmuid Lester and Thomas Clancy will anchor the defensive effort and John O’Rourke is capable of wreaking havoc at half-forward.

Close to goal for Cork, Castlehaven’s Brian Hurley is the one player the Galway defence will need to watch.

It’s likely to be a tight clash yet in that sense Cork’s strength in depth could be crucial. Daniel McEoin and Stephen O’Mahony both nabbed goals when introduced during the quarter-final win over Armagh, and the ability to spring that sort of attacking talent could settle the issue for Cork.

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