CORK defender John Miskella is determined to make the most of the remainder of the All-Ireland SFC after being plagued with a groin injury that saw him sidelined from inter-county action for the first five months of the season.
Miskella missed Cork’s entire NFL Division 1 winning campaign and, after brief substitute showings in the two-game battle with Kerry in the Munster Championship in June, the Ballincollig man had to wait until last Saturday week for his first full game for Cork this season, in the All-Ireland Qualifier against Cavan.
Miskella has had to endure a frustrating time since Cork’s defeat in last September’s All-Ireland final by Kerry but, after emerging unscathed from another 70 minutes of action in last Sunday’s All-Ireland SFC qualifier round 3 clash in Wexford Park, he feels he is starting to regain full fitness at an opportune time.
The Wexford tie was far more beneficial to Miskella, the pace and intensity a few notches above the lifeless encounter with Cavan the week before, and he is now eager for action in the next instalment of Cork’s qualifier run when they square off against Limerick in the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday.
“It was tough at the start of the year as I went so many months without starting a game. No matter what you do, it’s going to be difficult to get back into it. But, thank God, I’m coming right and this is the right time of the year to be getting back involved in football. The pitches are hard, the football is more intense and the games are more important. Coming through that 70 minutes without any injury problems was big for me and especially as it was the second week in a row that I managed that. “Last week against Cavan wasn’t up to much, but Wexford was a much faster and harder game, so it was a better reading of where I’m at. The body was a bit sore after it, but in general it’s good and I’m happy enough with it.”
On a broader scale, Miskellareckoned the rigorous challenges that both Wexford and the horrendous weather conditions posed will provide greater assistance to Cork as they progress through this year’s championship. The victory over Cavan was a fruitless exercise in terms of garnering information, such was the sheer paucity of play produced by the Ulster men.
Wexford were stauncher opponents and set Cork up in better shape for the test Limerick will pose this Saturday.
“It was a good result now, especially as coming in at half-time, we weren’t that happy with our first-half performance. We knew it was going to be very tough, especially playing at an away venue, and conditions were desperate, to say the least. I don’t think any of us have played championship at inter-county level with that type of weather.
“We came to the pitch on Saturday and it was very windy, so we knew the wind was going to be a factor. But the rain was torrential out there as well and I felt that impacted on our play in the first half as it didn’t work out for us. But there’s enough experience in this team to weather that.
“We didn’t panic at any stage and just kept driving on. We played a running game in the second half with lots of fellas supporting each other. We did say at half-time that we had to come out strong and keep Wexford quiet. It was the sort of test we needed.”
Meanwhile, Cork boss Conor Counihan revealed that they agreed to the toss for venue for Saturday night’s All-Ireland qualifier against Limerick in the hope that they would secure home advantage that would ease the pressure being placed on Cork GAA fans to attend games in recent weeks.
“The reality of the situation is that there was an approach made for a home and away, and we agreed to the toss. From our point of view, it’s been a very expensive time for Cork supporters trying to support two teams. If there was any chance that we could get a home game, we certainly felt we should take that chance for our supporters.”
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