Eoin O’Neill: Cork quintet to miss opening league games

Eoin O'Neill: First two games vital.

Cork footballers Eoin Cadogan, Alan O’Connor, Jamie O’Sullivan, and the Hurley brothers, Brian and Michael, will miss the county’s opening two league fixtures, selector Eoin O’Neill has confirmed.

Cadogan (Achilles tendon), O’Sullivan (groin), and Brian Hurley (hamstring) all went under the knife in 2016 and none will feature in Cork’s opening Division 2 games against Galway this Sunday and Kildare the week after. 

Michael Hurley, absent during Cork’s McGrath Cup campaign, is another on the treatment table, with a hip injury. Alan O’Connor, meanwhile, is being withheld until later in the league.

Cork could also be without U21 pair Seán Powter and Gary Murphy for the trip to Salthill, as management are keen to ensure that neither are overburdened this spring; both are involved with the UCC freshers this afternoon. 

A call on their involvement at Pearse Stadium is expected to be made tomorrow.

Selector O’Neill says the emphasis isn’t so much on promotion as it is winning games and achieving consistency of performance. 

At least one victory, he adds, will have to be garnered during the opening fortnight if Cork intend on making it a brief stay in the second tier.

“We were somewhat rusty against Kerry in the McGrath Cup, but we really can’t afford to be rusty early in the league, as our first two games are fierce important,” O’Neill stressed. 

“We need to be getting something out of one of those games, at least, or both. That is the way it is. Our opposition will be thinking the same thing. A good start in the league gives you that foundation of confidence to go and drive on.”

Indeed, such is the determination to kick-start their Division 2 campaign on a positive note that experimentation in both team selection and style of play is well down management’s agenda.

“We have to play Galway, who are Connacht champions, away and then Kildare away, so we are certainly not thinking about experimenting. We are going to try and get the best team that is available to us and put them on the field. 

"That will be the approach to every game, because it is a competitive division and there are a lot of good teams in it. Two of the provincial champions from last year were in Division 2.

“There are a lot of teams on the rise in Division 2: Clare are there, Fermanagh are there and they could have beaten Mayo in the championship last year. 

"If we go in with any other frame of mind other than 100% is required in every game, it could be a very difficult league for us. We have to go in there and set our stall out early; no different to Division 1 really.

“What our emphasis is on is to get this team winning matches. That is our emphasis. Promotion and whatever happens after that will look after itself.”


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