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Dublin: 0°C Monday 25 January 2021

Anthony Nash and Cork hopeful they've solved the riddle of the five-week gap

The Rebels have endured a tricky five-week break since their last championship game.

Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

ONE OF THE idiosyncrasies of the All-Ireland SHC  is the five-week break the Munster and Leinster champions face until they enter the last four of the competition.

Munster winners have found it particularly difficult to translate their provincial success to the All-Ireland stage. Of the 10 Munster champions between 2007 and ’16, only three sides won the All-Ireland semi-final that followed – Tipperary in ’09, ’11 and last year.

Just two teams in the last 12 years – Cork in ’05 and Tipperary in ’16 – have lifted both the Munster and All-Ireland titles in the same year.

In Leinster, things have worked out a little bit differently. Kilkenny have long been the masters at overcoming the lengthy break, but Galway have managed to make it to the All-Ireland final after their two most recent provincial successes, in ’12 and ’17.

On Sunday, Galway boss Micheal Donoghue spoke about the importance an in-house game they played during a training camp in Fota Island on the day of the quarter-finals.

Michael Donoghue celebrates after the game Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Donoghue said: “The question was, ‘Could we get to the intensity in our own internal game of what we were going to see later in Pairc Ui Chaoimh?’ And we were happy enough with the intensity of it.”

On the evidence of their impressive showing against Tipperary, which was their 10th competitive win in-a-row, that training encounter hit the required intensity.

This weekend we’ll find out how Cork have dealt with the break since their Munster final win over Clare.

“We’re delighted with what we’ve done so far, winning Munster, but we’ve parked it completely,” says Anthony Nash. “It’s a separate competition now, no more backdoors, so we’ve refocused.”

After the Clare game, the Cork players went back to their clubs for a week of local championship. The following week, the younger members of their panel were fully focused on the Munster U21 decider against Limerick, which they lost.

Kevin Moran, Brendan Cummins, Martin Donnelly, James McInerney and Anthony Nash Nash was speaking at the M. Donnelly GAA All-Ireland Poc Fada Finals Launch Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

That gave the Rebels a three-week run-in to their rematch against Waterford. Nash believes Cork have learned lessons from 2014, when they lifted the Munster crown but suffered a 10-point beating by Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final.

“We had a big break that time and we didn’t play a lot of club championship, so we changed that a little bit. Whether it’s right or wrong, I don’t know. As a team we’re somewhere we probably weren’t expected to be.

“We were very disappointed in 2014 obviously. We had a good Munster campaign and just let ourselves down a little bit up here (in Croke Park).”

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Kevin O'Brien

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