Three finals have been contested in the interim, four if you count last July’s Munster final replay, each ending in deflation.
The 29-year old Goulding sat on the bench for the majority of last year’s championship— he was introduced in only one of Cork’s four summer outings— and so having played a leading role in their journey to tonight’s McGrath Cup decider, he’s determined to finish January with a medal.
The Éire Óg forward kicked five points in the opening round win over Limerick, including the final two scores of the contest, to swing the verdict back in Cork’s favour, and he again top-scored in the 3-19 to 1-5 demolition of Waterford last week; his personally tally on this occasion reaching 0-6.
“Silverware can be scarce enough at senior inter-county level so you don’t turn your nose to any piece up for grabs,” said Goulding, ahead of tonight’s game in Mallow (7.30pm).
“Paul Kerrigan said at the Reardens All Star game in Clonakilty last week you don’t go out to lose any game or to play badly in any game. So whatever is said about these early season games, we are going out to try and win them all. That is what was drilled into me from a young age. Plus, it has been two years since Cork won some silverware so we’d be keen to change that. A win too would give confidence to the team.”
With their opening fixture of the national league little over a week in the distance - Mayo, at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday, January 31, Goulding welcomes the extra game. “You don’t want to go in cold to the national league and we will take on Mayo knowing we have three good, competitive games under our belt.
“It is a last chance for lads to get in a good game before the league starts and a last chance to stake a claim for a starting berth ahead of the league opener. It is good for the younger and less experienced lads to get some extra game-time and for those who were out with long-term injuries, it is good for them to get another chance to get back up to inter-county speed before Mayo.”
“I know Clare last year would have been disappointed how our Munster semi-final meeting went. They are a better team than was shown on that day and they knew that. We railroaded them in the first 15 minutes and they’ll be looking forward to having another pop off us again.”
Ken O’Halloran, Eoin Cadogan, and Brian O’Driscoll are among the more notable names making their first starts in the competition tonight. O’Halloran is the third goalkeeper used by manager Peadar Healy in as many games, while Cadogan and O’Driscoll slot in at full-back and right half-back respectively.
Donal Óg Hodnett, named in the half-forward line, is another who comes in for his first appearance of the McGrath Cup.
K O’Halloran (Bishopstown); C O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh), E Cadogan (Douglas), K Histon (Cobh); B O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh), J Loughrey (Mallow), Tomás Clancy (Fermoy); I Maguire (St Finbarr’s), Mark Collins (Castlehaven); K O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh), D Óg Hodnett (O’Donovan Rossa), R Deane (Bantry Blues); D Mac Eoin (Ilen Rovers), D Goulding (Éire Óg), B Hurley (Castlehaven).
R Price (O’Donovan Rossa), J O’Sullivan (Bishopstown), Mark Collins (O’Donovan Rossa), B Daly (Newmarket), A O’Sullivan (Castletownbere), K O’Hanlon (Kilshannig), B Coughlan (Kinsale), L Connolly (Nemo Rangers), P Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers), P Kelleher (Kilmichael), S Hickey (Rockchapel).