After a superb win over Tipperary in the Munster Hurling Championship, the Cork footballers open their campaign this weekend when they face Waterford.
WIth Tipperary waiting in the semi-final, the path is there for the Rebels to set-up a provincial final against Kerry – the ideal way to open the new Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
Recent years haven’t been kind to Peadar Healy’s side, who haven’t come close to replicating their All-Ireland success in 2010. In the intervening seasons, they have only one the Munster title once.
It wasn’t a great league campaign for Cork either as they finished fourth in Division 2, only winning two of their seven games, but drawing three times.
While there may not be too much cause for optimism, here are three reasons why 2017 could be a better year for the footballers from the banks of the Lee.
Cork are all too aware that they have a lot of work to do if they are to compete with the big boys. Speaking to the Irish Examiner manager Peadar Healy said that when they reviewed last year in depth, the findings were bleak.
“When we did the review at the end of last year, we found we were so far back in terms of fitness levels compared with other teams,” said Healy.
“The fitness levels were way, way down in the championship compared to other counties. We were nowhere near Dublin, Kerry, or Mayo.
“We have big blocks of hard training put in, hard running up and down the pitch.
“Even when the lads went back to their clubs for the county championship, they trained with us as well. So the boys have put in a lot of hard work on this.”
Indifferent League Means They Won’t Take Minnows For Granted
The most concerning result in the spring was the 2-11 to 0-9 loss to Clare in Ennis.
This showed a serious weakness in the Cork defence as they were well beaten by the Banner.
However, they have somewhat steadied the ship since then and their performances have improved.
This defeat should actually help Cork as it means they are unlikely to overlook the Deise or Tipp. Also, despite the defeat in Ennis, they finished above Clare in the NFL, meaning they were the second ranked Munster county overall – but still well behind Kerry who won Division 1.
Pairc Ui Chaoimh Factor
While it could be a distraction, the prospect of opening Pairc Ui Chaoimh with a Cork-Kerry Munster final should provide huge inspiration for the Cork footballers.
It should keep the Rebels focused throughout the early rounds of the summer as they look ahead to a potentially huge clash in July.
Should they get to that Munster final, that will have Cork in the last twelve of the country at least which would be a solid foundation for this side to build on coming into the latter part of the summer.