While pre-season competitions like the McGrath Cup exist as opportunities to win silverware, giving game-time to fringe players is the primary objective.
This year, though, the opportunity to evaluate newcomers is at even more of a premium, according to Cork selector Eoin O’Neill.
Having beaten Limerick last week, Peadar Healy’s side travel to An Rinn to take on Waterford tomorrow (2pm), knowing that victory will secure a place in the final.
“The fact the weather has been bad meant we haven’t had a lot of chances to look at lads,” O’Neill says.
“The squad is very open, we have 37 or 38 involved and a few others out injured and on extended breaks.
“It’s by no means tied down but we just want to be able to get out on the field and see fellas kick a football.
“We’re looking to win on Sunday to get another game in the competition. If not, we’ll arrange one somewhere else.
“Obviously, we have to work off a certain number for the league so it’ll need to be some way set by then, but the door has to be kept open too as you’ll be missing guys with the Sigerson and there’ll probably be injuries and the like.”
Aghada native O’Neill was part of the backroom set-up during Conor Counihan’s tenure, while manager Healy was a selector and coach.
Morgan O’Sullivan of Castletownbere is also a selector while the final piece of the jigsaw came with the appointment of former Cork ladies manager Eamonn Ryan.
Former Cork players Paudie Kissane and Conor McCarthy operate as strength and conditioning coach and sports psychologist respectively.
“We’re learning alright,” O’Neill says, “but that’s a good thing in its own right, it brings a fresh view.
“Eamonn is settling in. He has a very steady view and he has seen it all, so he’s identifying areas to work on.”
Meanwhile members of last year’s All-Ireland junior-winning team form the backbone of the Kerry side for tomorrow’s McGrath Cup clash with Clare at Killarney (2.30pm).
With the bulk of the panel which reached last year’s All-Ireland final on holiday in Florida, Eamonn Fitzmaurice has opted to experiment, with only Padraig O’Connor, Philip O’Connor and Shane O’Callaghan having previously played in the league.
KERRY (SF v Clare): S Murphy (Kilcummin); B Ó Beaglaoích (An Ghaeltacht), G Hartnett (Beaufort), P O’Sullivan (Valentia); P O’Connor (Legion), D O’Sullivan (Legion), T O’Sullivan (Dingle); B O’Sullivan (Valentia), W Guthrie (Austin Stacks); P O’Connor (Cordal), J O’Sullivan (Killarney Legion), S O’Callaghan (Austin Stacks); P Joy (Laune Rangers), G O’Grady (Glenbeigh/Glencar), J O’Donoghue (Glenflesk). Subs: S Keane (Legion), D O’Brien (Austin Stacks), K Crowley (Laune Rangers), C Moriarty (Milltown/Castlemaine), M Foley (Laune Rangers).
WATERFORD (SF v Cork): S Barron (Ardmore); T Ó hUallacháin (An Rinn), T O’Gorman (The Nire), B Looby (Ballinacourty); M Curry (Rathgormack), J McGrath (The Nire), R Ó Ceallaigh (An Rinn); C Prunty (Ballinacourty), T Prendergast (Kilrossanty); M O’Halloran (Ballinacourty), D Breathnach (An Rinn), D Allen (Clashmore/Kinsalebeg); D Power (Kilrossanty), P Whyte (Kilrossanty), S Corcoran (St Saviour’s).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved