Cork triallists get second shot

CORK boss Conor Counihan will make his 2011 managerial bow in next Sunday’s McGrath Cup quarter-final against Limerick in Newcastlewest but will operate without the majority of his All-Ireland winning team for the pre-season clash.

The Cork squad fly back into Dublin Airport this Friday evening after a 17-day team holiday in South Africa and Counihan will be back in charge against the Shannonsiders having missed last Sunday’s comfortable preliminary round victory over Waterford IT in Páirc Ui Rinn. However Cork are set to stick with an experimental line-up for the game and will not be rushing the big names from last September’s triumph back into action. Alan O’Connor, the captain for the day, and Kevin McMahon were the only two members of last year’s squad to play on Sunday, while defender Ger Spillane and some of last year’s fringe panellists will likely come into the frame to join them next weekend.

“We’ll have a few additions to the panel”, revealed selector Terry O’Neill, who deputised for Counihan on Sunday. “Ger Spillane will definitely be there, he only landed back from America on Sunday morning which ruled him out against WIT. To be fair to him, we couldn’t ask him to turn out and play after just coming home. The lads are back from South Africa on Friday but we won’t be bringing them all in, we’ll probably just have four or five of them with us.”

O’Neill insisted that the purpose of Cork’s entry to the McGrath Cup, after opting not to compete last season, was “to offer new players the opportunity to break into the squad. But the purpose of entering the McGrath Cup was for trying out fellas, so we have to stick with them now.”

Four members of Cork’s squad are set to be in action when they return as part of the CIT setup that travel to Cooraclare to face Clare next Sunday in a last eight McGrath Cup tie. Defensive duo Brian O’Regan and Conor O’Driscoll, midfielder Aidan Walsh and attacker Ciarán Sheehan are all part of the third-level outfit this season, but an assessment will be made of O’Regan and Sheehan’s fitness as they have been carrying injuries.

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