Thursday 22 March 2018

Cats' spirit set to leave Rebels on their knees



(Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Tomorrow 2.30, live TG4)

BIZARRE as it may seem, Cork should prepare for a backlash performance tomorrow from a Kilkenny team still smarting from their third consecutive league victory!

Victory, you say? More like daylight robbery, given how the All-Ireland champions required two goals in the dying minutes to reel in and overtake a previously dominant 14-man Dublin.

The one positive for Kilkenny, two more Division 1A points aside, was alluded to by Brian Cody afterwards: their legendary spirit remains intact.

And the negatives? Well, their first touch and some of their option-taking up front was actually quite un-Kilkenny-like, but the most obvious worry concerns the concession of six goals.

After all, this was no rookie sextet: you had three current All Stars (Paul Murphy, Tommy Walsh and Brian Hogan), two decorated veterans (JJ Delaney and Noel Hickey) and just one rookie (Richie Doyle). When was the last time Walsh conceded 2-3 from play to his direct opponent, and a relative novice (Danny Sutcliffe) at that?

In his post-match debrief, Cody was at pains to stress that he wouldn't be inflicting extra training punishment on a defence that had served him so brilliantly over the years, but we suspect some home truths will have been uttered in private this week, hence the predicted backlash.

Under the revitalising command of Jimmy Barry Murphy, the Rebels started this league with a brace of encouraging wins but, having lost last weekend to Galway, his transitional team will do well to avoid back-to-back home defeats.

ODDS: Cork 21/10, Draw 10/1, Kilkenny 4/9

VERDICT: Kilkenny

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