CORK’S FOOTBALLERS WILL line out against Kildare at Croke Park this weekend, having not played since their Munster final rout of Clare a month ago.
And it’ll be eight weeks since the Rebels took on one of the top-tier sides, their defeat of Kerry in the provincial championship.
And as he prepares his side for a test against a Kildare side battle-hardened by the Leinster championship and their subsequent route through the qualifiers, Conor Counihan admits the All-Ireland format is lop-sided.
“There are certainly times when you look at it, alright. What the solutions are? I don’t know,” the Aghada man told TheScore at the Rebels’ press night at the Rochestown Park yesterday.
“Someone made a comment recently about the provincial losers and the six-day turnaround and possibly they could get home venue the next day out. Maybe that’s something. There’s a little bit of unbalance there at the minute. Having said that, at this stage of the year a lot of the teams that you’d expect to be there are still there.”
After a month filling their time with training matches on Leeside, Counihan only learned who Cork would be playing last Saturday evening when Kildare saw off Sligo.
“Yeah, you’d prefer to know it but you knew where you were going. You knew you weren’t going to have it (the identity) and you made alternate plans as much as you could in terms of focusing on whoever was left and looking at all the possibilities. It would be easier if you had two or three weeks to prepare knowing the opposition but that’s the same for everyone.”
But, Counihan admits, Kildare are well scouted. ”Yeah, we’ve certainly looked at them and they’re turning the form at this stage,” he says. “They’d obviously be disappointed with the Meath result but since then they’ve beaten Cavan comprehensively, a tough game against Limerick who played exceptionally well on the night and then last Saturday night a very comprehensive win against Sligo.”
The 2010 All-ireland champions will select from a full squad — (‘And we’re pleased about that,’ the manager says) — with Eoin Cadogan on the mend despite tweeting for movie advice from his sick bed earlier in the week. He’ll be back and Counihan is pleased with the state of his panel.
“I wouldn’t say he’s on his deathbed. He had a bit of a chest infection going into Sunday’s game. He’s coming around fine, so he is.”
So with Donegal and Kerry promising a contrast in styles on Sunday evening, Counihan reckons Kildare will hold a mirror up to the Rebels.
“I suppose both teams are attack-focussed as such so we’re probably similar in that way and it’ll be a good open game of football. We’ll be similar enough, I would imagine.”