Offaly make the long trip to Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday evening to face Cork in this All Ireland SHC round 2 qualifier. Throw in 7pm.
No doubt they will be eager to restore some pride after being comfortably defeated by Galway three weeks ago in the Leinster Championship. But they will be up against a slick and confident Cork side.
Jimmy Barry Murphy really has Cork hurling buzzing again. Similar to his last stint in charge he has drafted in some very talented young players, and they are playing with a sense of freedom and confidence that is a joy to watch. They were narrowly defeated (one point margin) by Tipperary is the Munster semi- final two weeks ago, but this defeat won’t have JBM and his management colleagues feeling overly stressed. The young players in the side such as William Egan, Darren Sweetman, Pat Horgan and Conor Lehane all led from the front and played with great style, passion and confidence. This team is clearly going places.
Offaly on the other hand had a poor day at the office in their last outing against Galway, in the Leinster semi- final. The game was effectively over at half time, with a margin of 11 points separating the sides. Galway scored at will and the Offaly defence had no answer to the slick movement, hard running and clinical finishing of the Galway attack. The Offaly attack fought hard all through to reduce the deficit and in Shane Dooley and Joe Bergin, they have two top forwards that world trouble any defence.
Offaly really drew the shortest of straws by having to travel and play a rejuvenated Cork side away from home. Their defence is low on confidence and it is vital that the errors they made against Galway are eliminated if they are to stand any chance. Cork are starting to hit top form and they were very disappointed to lose so narrowly against Tipperary after a great display. They should advance to the next round with a bit to spare.
Cork – A Nash; S O’Neill, B Murphy, C O’Sullivan; T Kenny, C Joyce, W Egan; D Sweetnam , L McLoughlin; C Lehane, C McCarthy, P Cronin; J Coughlan, P O’Sullivan, P Horgan.
Offaly – Eoin Kelly; Conor Hernon, David Kenny, James Rigney, Derek Morkan, Rory Hanniffy, Diarmuid Horan, Kevin Brady, Sean Ryan, Colin Egan, Conor Mahon, Brendan Murphy, Shane Dooley, Joe Bergin, Brian Carroll.