By Mark Woods, The Evening Echo
Cork captain Michael Shields reaches a significant milestone in his career by making his 50th championship appearance as the beaten Munster finalists attempt to get back on the horse once again.
The 29 years-old St Finbarr’s defender, who made his debut in 2006, is retained in an unchanged defence following the 1-11 to 1-06 replay defeat by All-Ireland champions Kerry at rain-drenched Killarney last weekend.
Shields is the most experienced player in a Cork side showing two changes in personnel with Brian Hurley and the injured Pa Kelly making way for Colm O’Driscoll and fit-again Eoin Cadogan, who missed the second game against the Kingdom.
Manager Brian Cuthbert has resisted the temptation to re-jig his starting line-up and instead given 13 of the side from a week ago the immediate opportunity to bounce back from their acute disappointment.
It’s only the fifth championship meeting between Cork and Kildare with recent history in Leesider's favour following wins in 2008 and 2012, both at the quarter-final stage.
This is Cork’s fourth outing of the summer, having opened with a predictable enough 1-20 to 1-8 win over Clare before drawing 3-12 to 2-15 with Kerry in the most exciting game of the whole championship so far.
Kildare are appearing for the sixth time after three games in Leinster - drawing and defeating Laois, but suffering a 19-point mauling by Dublin - and two more games against Leinster opposition in the qualifiers.
They just survived against Offaly by 1-15 to 1-13, but were far more impressive in the 2-24 to 0-11 success against Longford last time out, though the lilywhites face a major step up in class on this occasion.
The disappointment of the Kerry defeat is sure to linger in Cork’s system and Kildare may believe they’re vulnerable, pointing to Cork’s struggle against Sligo at the same time 12 months ago.
However, Cork are in a far stronger position mentally because the circumstances are very different. Last year Kerry demolished them unexpectedly, but the gap between the pair has narrowed considerably.
It’s still a big ask psychologically given the six-day turn around, but the quick proximity of the fixture also represents an ideal opportunity to bounce back straight away.
While Kildare’s confidence has been restored somewhat following back-to-back wins, both came against teams who operated in division four in the spring, when Kildare suffered a successive relegation to be plunged into division three next year.
The placing of Eoin Cadogan at midfield isn’t new because the Douglas player featured there during the league and revelled in the open spaces, the shackles of his normal man-marking duties removed to allow him link the play further up field.
Also the recall of Colm O’Driscoll, who started against Clare, adds further vibrancy to the middle third where Alan O’Connor, Kevin O’Driscoll and Cadogan give Cork important physique.
Presumably, Cork will start again with a two-man full-forward line of Colm O’Neill, who has 1-14 to his name, 1-4 from play, and Donncha O’Connor, a provider of 2-9, though you’d wonder is there a need to play Paul Kerrigan so deep again on this occasion?
Mark Collins is an accurate play-maker and finisher and needs to be entrusted closer to the posts. And with Kerrigan also a capable marksman, Cork should have enough fire-power to get the job done.
Of course, Kildare are sure to pack the defence in an effort to stay in the hunt for as long as possible, though they might also see this as chance to go for the jugular from the throw-in.
They’ve capable operators in centre-back Eoin Doyle, wing-back Emmet Bolton, midfielder Paul Cribbin and Alan Smith at full-forward, but Cork look to have all the aces and should advance to meet the Dubs in the following weekend’s quarter-final.
CORK: K O’Halloran (Bishopstown); M Shields (St Finbarr’s), captain, J O’Sullivan (Bishopstown), J Loughry (Mallow); S Cronin (Nemo Rangers), Brian O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs), Barry O’Driscoll (Nemo Rangers); A O’Connor (St Colum’s), E Cadogan (Douglas); C O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs), M Collins (Castlehaven), K O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs); C O’Neill (Ballyclough), P Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers), D O’Connor (Ballydesmond).
Subs: P O’Shea (St Vincent’s), T Clancy (Fermoy), N Galvin (Ballincollig), C Dorman (Bishopstown), I Maguire (St Finbarr’s), F Goold (Macroom), B Hurley (Castlehaven), D Goulding (Éire Óg), D Óg Hodnett (O’Donovan Rossa), J Hayes (Carbery Rangers), J O’Rourke (do).