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Cadogan primed for rebel start

THE midweek 'team' or the real Rebel deal? That is the first question prompted by Conor Counihan's announcement last night of his Cork team to face Dublin in Sunday's All-Ireland SFC semi-final at Croke Park.

Most of the speculation has obviously centred on Graham Canty's inclusion at centre-back, despite the very real and ongoing doubts about the health of his hamstring.

It is entirely predictable - and even proper - that Cork are seen to be giving their inspirational captain as much time as possible to prove his fitness. If Canty is right, he'll play. End of story.

Yet all the vibes emanating from Leeside suggest that their veteran defensive star will lose the three-week fitness race that commenced when he tore his hamstring in the act of fisting a quarter-final point against Roscommon.

The normal recovery period for a grade two hamstring tear is four to six weeks. Canty is a superhuman competitor but the odds have been stacked against him from the off ... and if he doesn't make it, Eoin Cadogan's return from the Cork hurling fold could culminate with his immediate recall, probably in the full-back line with John Miskella moving out.

Cork's other grave injury concern, Ciarán Sheehan, is also named at full-forward despite hobbling off in the closing minutes of the Roscommon game. The promising rookie suffered cartilage damage in his knee but has responded well to treatment and there's a mood of cautious optimism that he'll be fit to make his first senior semi-final start, along with Paudie Kissane and Aidan Walsh.

Casualty doubts aside, Counihan and his co-selectors have made three changes from the team that initially stuttered so badly in the quarter-final. Miskella replaces Jamie O'Sullivan at corner-back (although a switch to half-back may beckon); Alan O'Connor earns a midfield recall in place of Derek Kavanagh; and Donncha O'Connor displaces the recently out-of-sorts Colm O'Neill at corner-forward.

All three were sprung from the bench against Roscommon and these changes have been well flagged in advance of Sunday. Perhaps the only remaining question is whether there could be a second midfield switch, given Nicholas Murphy's pivotal role in turning the tide against the Rossies.

For now, however, the hard-running Walsh retains his place. The thinking may be that Murphy doesn't have 70 minutes in his legs but could exert a more profound influence as an impact sub.

CORK (SFC v Dublin): A Quirke; R Carey, M Shields, J Miskella; N O'Leary, G Canty, P Kissane; A O'Connor, A Walsh; P Kerrigan, P O'Neill, P Kelly; D Goulding, C Sheehan, D O'Connor.