The condensed nature of the Allianz FL means hopes and ambitions can change very quickly.
A week ago, Cork’s Division 2 clash with Fermanagh was almost being billed as a relegation four-pointer, but a win for the Rebels in Páirc Uí Rinn, coupled with Kildare’s loss at Derry, means things have tightened once more.
Behind Galway and Kildare, Cork are in a three-way tie for third along with Derry and Clare, who provide the opposition for Peadar Healy’s side in Cusack Park in Ennis tomorrow. Cork selector Eoin O’Neill saw positives in last week’s win, but accepts there are areas to be improved on.
“We’ll take positives from that game and learn from it,” he said, “but there are aspects we need to improve on. We created a lot of chances without taking them and in a tighter game that could have been costly. When we’re tuned in, we tend to play better and it’s about trying to get that consistency and playing at a high level throughout a game rather than having peaks and troughs.The problem is sometimes we go into a bit of a lull and when the intensity drops that leads to bad decision-making.”
Clare began with a draw in Derry before beating Down and, while they lost to Galway, O’Neill is expecting a stiff test in Ennis.
“Absolutely, they’re improving, and it’s not just a blip,” he says.
“They should have beaten Derry and then Derry beat Kildare, that’s what happens, teams take points off each other. We’re level in the table with them and it’ll be a big two points. You look at the divisions above and below us, things get very tight and it takes on a life of its own.”
Goalkeeper Ryan Price, forced to cry off before throw-in last week, is available again, but while Brian Hurley (hamstring injury) and Eoin Cadogan (Achilles tendon) are back in training, management won’t take any risks.
“We’ll wait until they’re 100%,” O’Neill said. “Both are training fully and they have played with their clubs in the league but it was something we learned last year you can’t throw fellas in.
“When that happens, it can lead to a lack of confidence. There are fitness thresholds for them to meet and we won’t rush them. Otherwise, we should have everyone else available to us.”
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