Cork hurling chief Kieran Kingston tries out new options for Waterford clash

Cork hurling manager Kieran Kingston has continued his policy of rotation for tomorrow night’s Munster SHL clash with Waterford in Mallow (7.30pm).

Having beaten Kerry on Saturday, another win for Cork would leave them in a good position to reach the final, while the game is Waterford’s first after their scheduled meeting with Limerick on Sunday was postponed.

In total, there are nine changes in personnel from the Kerry game. 

Patrick Collins returns in goal, while highly-rated Blackrock youngster Stephen Murphy is given a competitive debut at right corner-back while Cormac Murphy — who played against Cork for UCC in the Canon O’Brien Cup on Saturday — makes his first start of this campaign, selected in a new-look midfield alongside Damien Cahalane.

Sunday’s goalscorer Luke O’Farrell retains his place at full-forward, while Bill Cooper is named at centre-forward, having been a late injury withdrawal before the loss to Clare in Cork’s opening game.

Meanwhile All Star Waterford defender Noel Connors believes the Allianz League holders must adapt or die from second season syndrome, like a number of rival counties have in recent seasons.

Waterford memorably reverted to a more defensive game plan last year, building on their league success with a Munster final place and, ultimately, an All-Ireland semi-final berth. 

Their challenge now is to refine and progress and to avoid losing ground in the vital second season like Wexford, Clare, Limerick, and Galway all did in recent years following their breakthroughs.

Waterford were labelled the Donegal of hurling by some pundits last year for their emphasis on regimental defending, something that ultimately garnered All Star awards for Connors and sweeper Tadhg de Burca. 

But there’s no denying they would love to tweak and develop their defensive regime, just like Donegal did after their breakthrough 2011 campaign, leading to the All-Ireland success of 2012.

Waterford’s 2016 season begins tomorrow evening when they take on Kingston’s Cork in the Munster Senior Hurling League pre-season competition in Mallow.

“I think it was even evident as we went on in the championship last summer, that more people were trying to understand and trying to counteract what we were doing,” said Connors.

“We’ll have to change. If we don’t change, we might struggle for the vast majority of games. 

“If you don’t change, you’re lost and that’s probably business terminology but it’s very applicable to sport and to our situation as well.

“But I’m sure that Derek McGrath, being the person that never stops thinking, has a couple of plans. 

“Maybe he has a few new ideas on how to take a few steps forward and maybe get to the All-Ireland final, or even win it.”

CORK (SH v Waterford):

P Collins (Ballinhassig); S Murphy (Blackrock), C Spillane (Castlelyons), C Buckley (Na Piarsaigh); P O’Mahony (Midleton), M Ellis (Millstreet), W Egan (Kilbrin); C Murphy (Mallow), D Cahalane (St Finbarr’s); D Brosnan (Glen Rovers), B Cooper (Youghal), P Cronin (Bishopstown); P O’Rourke (Na Piarsaigh), L O’Farrell (Midleton), S Moylan (Douglas). Subs: A Nash (Kanturk), P O’Sullivan (Carrigtwohill), B Moylan (Glen Rovers), S Harnedy (St Ita’s), P Haughney (Midleton), W Leahy (Aghada), C O’Sullivan (Sarsfields), P O’Sullivan (Cloyne), S O’Neill (Bishopstown), C Cormack (Blackrock), B Lawton (Castlemartyr).


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