Who will be number 1?
Ken O’Halloran has started every championship game since Alan Quirke retired at the end of 2013, but Peadar Healy and his selectors made no bones about the fact that the goalkeeping spot was up for grabs during the league.
The Bishopstown man started the first game against Mayo and also the disastrous defeat against Roscommon, while Brendan O’Connell featured away to Donegal and Micheál Martin played against Dublin in Croke Park before Ryan Price came in for the last three matches against Monaghan, Down and Kerry. O’Connell has since left the squad so it’s three for one spot, with Price the clear favourite.
Who will be numbers 8 and 9?
The raft of retirements at the end of 2013 left Cork under-manned at midfield but the emergence of Ian Maguire and the return of Alan O’Connor offset that last year, though Maguire missed the championship with a back injury. He has the potential to become a complete midfielder and O’Connor could be an ideal partner but the question will be whether he has enough game-time under his belt to start. Kevin O’Driscoll, Mark Collins, Ruairí Deane, Seán Kiely and Fintan Goold (another who didn’t get to play much in the league) are others who could feature.
Can Peter Kelleher continue his good spring form?
The big man from Kilmichael was the undisputed success story of the league from a Cork point of view, being involved in eight of the nine goals the Rebels scored, netting three himself. Was a mistake made in making it clear that he was such a central part of the team, though? Will Tipperary – and then Kerry, if the Munster final is reached – be able to impose a system to stop him, having seen how Cork operate?
Will Thurles be a factor?
At the press evening last week, Cork selector Eoin O’Neill said that there had been no explicit mention of the fact that the team would be returning to Semple Stadium, site of the disappointing loss to Kildare last summer, but Fintan Goold acknowledged that it is something which can play on the mind. That it’s the very next championship game is probably a good thing and the response from Cork should be informative.
How much of a hand should be shown ahead of an expected final against Kerry?
A redundant question, really – even without some talented footballers playing hurling, Tipperary will test Cork and last year and the league showed that games can’t be cruised through in second or third gear. Ruthlessness has to be displayed, and any further games can be worried about afterwards.