Collins says relegated Rebels will rebound

Cork footballer Mark Collins is adamant that relegation to Division 3 will not affect Cork’s championship endeavours.

Collins says relegated Rebels will rebound

Cork footballer Mark Collins is adamant that relegation to Division 3 will not affect Cork’s championship endeavours. Despite securing a narrow win away to Armagh on Sunday, Clare’s victory over Tipperary meant Cork suffered their second league relegation in four seasons and will ply their trade in the third tier next spring. Cork open their Munster championship campaign at home to either Tipperary or Limerick on June 1, and Collins is confident the drop to Division 3 will not negatively impact on their summer.

“The league isn’t going to affect how we perform in the championship,” Collins stressed at last night’s county championship launch. “We have to look ahead. It is very disappointing to go down to Division 3. It has never been done with Cork before. But we have to park it, we have to look forward to championship. June 1 is our target now.”

Collins, who kicked three points — two from play — during the victory over Armagh, took encouragement from how Cork finished their Division 2 campaign, particularly their final three outings against Tipperary, Donegal, and Armagh. Division 2 status might not have been saved, but the performances, according to the inside forward, are coming together.

“The confidence is building in there. The last three performances have been worlds apart from what we produced earlier in the league. That is definitely a step in the right direction. We were mixing it with a Super 8 team against Donegal — that game was level with time almost up.

“We went up north against a good Armagh team who have been improving over the last couple of years and we beat them up there. You definitely have to take positives looking forward to June.

“Naturally, it is very disappointing to go down. Our aim all last week was to do our job in Armagh. That’s all we could do. We started super, then Armagh came back into it and the game was level with five minutes to go.

“We were playing against a strong wind [in the second-half] so to show heart, determination, and to get the win at the end was super. There was a feel-good factor at having got the win, but that was drained out of you when you heard the result from Thurles. I suppose we have to take the positives from it, the three last performances have been streets apart from what we gave earlier on in the league. We’ll look to build on that for the championship.”

Meanwhile, Cork forward Brian Hurley will undergo a scan to determine the extent of the hamstring injury he sustained during Sunday’s Division 2 victory over Armagh. There were immediate concerns for Hurley when he pulled up midway through the second-half given this is the same hamstring which sidelined him for six months in 2016, nearly all of 2017, and the early months of 2018. Hurley twice found the net during the 3-9 to 1-14 win over Armagh before being forced off in the 48th minute.

Sean Powter was withdrawn before throw-in owing to a mild muscle strain, though this minor setback is not linked to the hamstring injury which wrote off his 2018 inter-county season. Goalkeeper Micheál Martin (groin), defender Liam O’Donovan (knee) and Luke Connolly (quad) did not feature in Cork’s final league outing of the spring but are expected to play for their clubs when the county championship swings into action next month.

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