NIALL McCARTHY is back in contention for a place on the Cork team to face Offaly next Saturday night in the opening round of their All-Ireland qualifying campaign at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The Carrigtwohill player was marked absent for the Munster semi-final encounter with Tipperary because of a broken knuckle sustained in his club’s first-round victory over Courcey Rovers in the Cork County SHC, but he returned to the fray over the weekend when the reigning county champions took on Sarsfields in a senior league outing.
Lining out at full-forward and moving to various positions during the course of the game, Cork’s most experienced attacker delivered three fine points from play and played for the full hour.
It now remains to be seen if he is chosen in the starting 15 againstfor the encounter with the Faithful County, but his availability is a considerable plus for the management team.
His physicality and ball winning ability in the half-forward sector was missed against Tipperary and having him back in contention again improves the options in that department.
The management may decide to keep him in reserve next Saturday and call upon him at an appropriate time or if the need dictates in a contest that Cork will start favourites in.
It will be the second year in a row that the counties will be in direct opposition at this juncture in the campaign, Cork scraping home by a point in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last year.
There will definitely be one change on the Cork starting 15 with Eoin Cadogan unavailable due to Cork’s involvement in the Munster SFC final against Clare the following day. One of three Na Piarsaigh players — Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, John Gardiner and Chris Joyce — is thought to be the most likely replacement.
Sarsfields Daniel Kearney could come into the reckoning too at midfield after being introduced against Tipperary and scoring a point, while Cian McCarthy could feature in the attack after he too came on as a sub against the Premier County.
See more GAA on pages 44-53.