Cork’s Patrick Horgan shoots on the Clare goal in the recent Munster game at Pairc Ui Chaoimh. [Inpho/Ken Sutton]

Cork in search of vital win

Kilkenny have won 36 All-Ireland senior hurling finals and Cork are in second place in the Roll of Honor with 30 wins. But it’s now 19 years since the Liam McCarthy Cup arrived at Kent Railway Station in Cork and 11 years since the Rebels contested a senior All-Ireland hurling final. In 2013 they lost a replay in an all-Munster final against Clare. 

Two years ago when Pat Ryan was appointed Cork manager he said that his three-year term would be regarded as a failure unless the Rebels won the MacCarthy Cup. Last year, Cork failed to qualify for the knockout stage of the McCarthy Cup only winning one game and drawing another one in Munster. This year it has gotten worse for Ryan and his team, with two defeats to Waterford and Clare. Admittedly they were narrow defeats, losing by three points to Waterford in Walsh Park and by two points to Clare in Pairc Ui Chaoimh. 

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Speaking before the start of this year’s Championship  Ryan said that he got it wrong last year and should have given his players more of a break between the Waterford and Tipperary games. Now when pointless Cork face All-Ireland champions Limerick at Pairc Ui Chaoimh at 7 p.m. on Saturday evening they will have had a two-week break. But will it be enough for them to seriously challenge Limerick, who looked awesome in their facile win over Tipperary on April 28? 

I have sympathy for manager Ryan; Cork hurling has been in the doldrums in recent years and successive managers have failed to revive the Rebels. Dual star John Allen was manager in 2005 when Cork beat Galway to win the MacCarthy Cup. Since then: Gerald McCarthy, John Considine, Denis Walsh, Jimmy Barry-Murphy and Kieran Kingston have all tried their best, but sadly for Corkonians the heydays of stars like Christy Ring are just a memory.  

Limerick will be without Peter Casey, who suffered a broken ankle in the win over Tipperary, but they have a huge panel to work off and Adam English looked very impressive when he replaced Cian Lynch in the second half. 

Elsewhere on Saturday Kilkenny should be too strong for Carlow at Dr. Cullen Park, but Antrim will be buoyed by their win over Wexford in the last round, when they travel to Donnycarney to play the Dubs.


It’s hard now to recall the depressing days of Dublin football when they won only one All-Ireland final (1995) between 1983 and 2011. But from 2013 on the Dubs have won the Sam Maguire Cup eight times. When Jim Gavin stepped down as manager in November 2019 it was thought that was it, the Dublin players have too many miles on the clock. But Dessie Farrell has revitalized the Dubs and last year he brought back experienced players: Stephen Cluxton, Michael Fitzsimons, John McCarthy and Paul Mannion and they beat Kerry in the final. 

It’s not Dublin’s fault, but the opposition in Leinster is getting poorer every year and on Sunday next Dublin will be bidding for a record a 14th consecutive Leinster final win when they play Louth. Mickey Harte did a good job with the Wee County, before he was enticed back to Ulster and Derry. Former Dublin defender Ger Brennan has replaced Harte as Louth manager and now Louth find themselves in consecutive Leinster finals for the first time since the fifties when the won their third All-Ireland final. Louth have an excellent free-taker in Sam Mulroy, but as the old saying goes ‘‘one swallow doesn’t make a summer.’’

The result should be much closer in Clones where Armagh and Donegal meet in an Ulster final for the first time since 2006. There was huge interest in Ulster football back in the early part of this century and the Ulster finals of 2004, 2005 and 2006 were played in Croke Park. In 2006 Armagh lifted the Anglo Celt Cup after a three-point win over Donegal. No doubt Ulster is the most exciting of the provincial football championships and Doneal folk can dream again with a new group of supporters chanting “Jimmy’s winning matches.” Yes, Jim McGuinness has revived Donegal’s fortunes and meanwhile, in Armagh, the County Board has been rewarded by sticking with Kieran McGeeney as manager, after some poor results in the early part of his managerial career. In 2022 Armagh lost a penalty shoot-out to Galway in the All-Ireland quarter-finals and last year they fell to Monaghan at the same stage in another shoot-out. They may not win in Clones on Sunday, but I think Armagh could get another opportunity at Croke Park later in the summer.


With no let up in the frantic GAA season, the first round of the football second tier competition the Tailteann Cup will be played on Saturday evening. New York will come into the competition at preliminary quarter-final stage. Down were beaten in last year’s Tailteann Cup final by Meath and I fancy they could win the competition this year. On Saturday, the Mournemen are at home to Limerick. Kildare, who face Longford, could do with a boost after a terrible League and poor Leinster championship campaign. Improvement works are still under way at St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge, so the game will be at Hawkfield. Elsewhere Leitrim play Waterford at Ballinamore, Sligo are home to Wexford and Fermanagh are home to Wicklow, while London travel to Tullamore to play Offaly.



Mark Allen last week toasted achieving one of his lifetime goals as became the first snooker player from Northern Ireland to top the world rankings. The 38-year old, whose nickname is “The Pistol,” achieved the feat despite exiting the World Championship at the Second Round in Sheffield last week. Following his final-frame defeat to John Higgins at the Crucible, the later departures of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump,  both of whom required at least a final berth to each lay claim to the leading spot in the world rankings confirms that Allen cannot be overtaken and consolidates his status at the summit. O’Sullivan, who needed to wrap up the world title to keep hold of No.1, and Trump, who would have confirmed that position had he reached the decider in Sheffield, were beaten by Stuart Bingham and Jak Jones respectively in the quarter-finals of the competition. Allen, who was a three-time ranking event winner throughout the 2022/23 season before securing two more in 2023/24, said: “This is of my lifetime goals achieved. Not quite the way I would hoped to get there but I will take it. Six wins, a runner up and countless semis in the last two seasons and this is my reward. I need to continue the consistency to try and stay there now.”



Former Derry under 20 footballer Jude McAtamney has joined the NFL’s New York Giants as an undrafted free agent. The kicker, who won an Ulster under 20 title in 2020, recently graduated from Rutgers University where he was an honors student majoring in Labor and Employment Relations. McAtamney played 25 games in two seasons with the Division I Rutgers Scarlet Knights after a year at Division II Chowan University in North Carolina.

In his first year with Rutgers, who play in the prestigious Big 10 conference, McAtamney scored 12/18 field-goal attempts and completed 23/24 extra-point attempts. Last year McAtamney was supplanted as place-kicker by Jai Patel, but continued to take kick-offs, booting a school-record 40 touchbacks. The Swatragh native will have the chance to compete for the place of Giants veteran Graham Gano, who missed the end of last season following knee surgery.