All Ireland senior Semi-Final Cork V Galway Nowlan Park, Sat 2.15pm.
CORK’S performances to date in this season’s championship won’t be enough to see off the challenge of Galway tomorrow in the All Ireland senior championship semi-final in Nowlan Park.
Both management and players are aware of this and while management will certainly have an input come 2.15pm tomorrow it’s the players’ time to deliver.
Preparations have gone very well over the past few months with the attention to training and challenge games at its optimum. However come championship day that isn’t being reflected on the pitch and it is something which is frustrating both players and management alike.
The intensity which has been lacking to date should come to the forefront tomorrow. Cork tends to raise their game on occasions when they believe that they are capable of being beaten. They know that, last year’s finalists, are very capable of denying them a place in the All Ireland final for the third year in a row and surely that’s enough for them to raise the bar.
Galway have a steady team, a mix of experience and youth, where Therese Maher, easily one of the best performers in the country over the past decade, holds down her customary position of centre back. Maher, it was felt, would retire after last season’s final loss but the return of 1996 popular manager Tony Ward alongside Galway’s most famous camogie daughter, Sharon Glynn, prompted her to stay and give it one more try.
Centre forward is a position where Cork have struggled in and if Therese Maher controls the game like she is so capable of doing then Cork will pay the price. The selection of who will start centre of the 40 is a big one for Paudie Murray and his backroom team of Brian Barry, Aidan Crowley, George Fitzgibbon and Ellen Clifford.
Orla Cotter needs a big performance. Cork needs to win midfield. Jennifer O’Leary has played very well since placed there earlier in the championship but Cotter still hasn’t reached the form she is capable of. Cork need to be getting the ball inside to our full forward line faster and an in form Orla is also capable of running onto the breaking ball out of the opposition’s defence and taking scores.
Ann Marie Hayes, a huge defender for Galway, is surprisingly now operating in the middle of the park. Will this strengthen or weaken a typically rock solid half back line? If Cork can win midfield, gain an even slight advantage in their half forward line and match Galway physically then they are in with a great chance. Cork need to win Aoife Murray’s driving puck outs. Maher for one is great in the air.
Ensuring Katrina Mackey is heavily fed is another crucial element in Cork’s play. Their star forward needs the ball. She is the one capable of breaking Galway’s hearts tomorrow.
It’s a 50/50 game.