Un­der 20s need to get off to a pos­i­tive start on Satur­day

The Corkman - - SPORT - BY XXXX XXXXXX

MUN­STER UN­DER 20 FC QUAR­TER-FI­NAL Cork v Tip­per­ary Satur­day, June 16 Páirc Uí Rinn, 7.30pm

THIS Satur­day night Páirc Uí Rinn will play host to Cork’s quar­ter fi­nal in the Mun­ster Un­der 20 Football Cham­pi­onship where the young men in red and white will take on Tip­per­ary with the win­ner se­cur­ing their place in the last four – fac­ing off with Clare.

Cork made it to the fi­nal of this com­pe­ti­tion last year when it was still Un­der 21, but a heavy loss to Kerry in the fi­nal pro­vin­cial game put paid to their chances of pro­gres­sion.

This time round it is the ever im­prov­ing Premier County that will look to stop the rebels in a way that the county’s se­niors failed to do in the a few weeks back.

Cork have had a very cred­i­ble record at this grade since the com­pe­ti­tion came into be­ing back in 1966 with 26 ti­tles se­cured, how­ever, Kerry are again the pow­er­houses at this level and Cork will need to show se­ri­ous im­prove­ment on last year if they are to se­cure the crown – that said, the small mat­ter of Tip­per­ary is first up and the Premier boys won’t be mak­ing the trip to Lee­side with­out a plan in place to up­set the home side’s night.

This com­pe­ti­tion re­ally does fly un­der the radar with some of the top play­ers at this age group ei­ther busy with ex­ams or al­ready head­ing for se­nior in­ter-county football. All that said, this com­pe­ti­tion of­fers young play­ers the chance to im­press the pow­ers that be into giv­ing them a chance at se­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tive football.

At this stage of the year it is un­likely that a player will make the jump up this sea­son as the se­nior setup is pretty set­tled now but that should not de­ter play­ers from mak­ing a mark in the county colours with an eye on 2019.

Cork’s game with Tip­per­ary this week­end will be a tough propo­si­tion but things won’t get eas­ier for the rebels if they win as Clare await six days later with the like­li­hood of Kerry the fol­low­ing week in the pro­vin­cial show­piece game less than two weeks away.

There is lit­tle point look­ing past Mun­ster at this point, but a glimpse out­side re­veals an­other Dublin side that are favourites to dom­i­nate and po­ten­tially take the spoils.

Tip­per­ary come into this game with plenty to smile about as the county has seen sub­stan­tial im­prove­ments in re­sults in re­cent times but this sea­son will see a host of new play­ers look­ing to take their chance to con­tinue the progress and per­haps even bring some sil­ver­ware to this ever im­prov­ing county.

Cork’s man­ager, and se­lec­tor with the se­nior squad, Seán Hayes, will look to guide his side through the early rounds and set up the ex­pected clash with the King­dom how­ever the Nemo man will be des­per­ate to in­stil a one game at a time pol­icy in all his play­ers as to look past Tip­per­ary may well be fa­tal come game time.

The loss of Mark White to se­nior sta­tus is a blow for the Un­der 20s, but that is some­thing that has to be ac­cepted and en­cour­aged as all un­der­age grades are ul­ti­mately there to as­sist the se­nior side.

Cork may be about to head into their first, of hope­fully many cham­pi­onship games this sea­son, but they have al­ready en­gaged in a host of warm-up games in re­cent times and look to be in good shape and high spir­its head­ing into what may well be a very busy and ex­cit­ing spell for this side.

With the se­nior footballers, as well as the hurlers, re­main­ing in com­pet­i­tive ac­tion for the fore­see­able fu­ture the Un­der 20 com­pe­ti­tion will likely strug­gle to get se­ri­ous in­ter­est through the doors, but the lack of pun­ters at the turn­stiles should in no way take from the im­por­tance of this feeder com­pe­ti­tion to the over­all am­bi­tions of the se­nior county side.

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