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Thursday 2 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
# Let Battle Commence
6 talking points ahead of Cork and Galway's All-Ireland hurling quarter-final
The counties will battle it out for a semi-final place on Sunday.

1. Will Cork stick with the sweeper system?

It appears that this will be the case. Having leaked three goals to Waterford in the Munster semi-final, Cork have kept two successive clean sheets against Wexford and Clare.

At times, Cork looked under pressure in the Clare game but they held firm to learn the lessons from their 2013 All-Ireland final replay loss, when the Banner men scored five goals.

It might have taken Cork almost two years to move with the times but it’s very much a case of better late than never.

Brian Murphy has found his feet again at the back after returning to the squad before the championship and Mark Ellis is revelling in the sweeper role.

Boss Jimmy Barry-Murphy has favoured the conventional 15 on 15 approach in the past but won’t change now as he will feel that Cork need a sweeper against Tipperary should they progress.

Jamie Barron and Mark Ellis James Crombie / INPHO Mark Ellis has been playing the sweeper role for Cork. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

2. How will Cork shape up further forward?

Alan Cadogan was used as an auxiliary midfielder in the qualifiers but has been dropped from the starting line-up for Sunday’s clash.

Whether or not this is a mistake remains to be seen as Cadogan’s energy and running ability are perfectly suited to a third midfielder role.

Conor Lehane and Seamus Harnedy should continue to operate as a two-man inside line, with Cork flooding the middle third with bodies.

Expect to see Patrick Horgan drift out to the half-forward line again in a congested area.

Daniel Kearney, Brian Lawton, Patrick Cronin and Bill Cooper will all be required to put in a shift here against a dynamic and pacey Galway team.

Conor Lehane and Conor Ryan James Crombie / INPHO Conor Lehane will operate close to the Galway goal. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

3. Can Joe Canning produce a consistent 70 minutes?

Canning is capable of moments of individual brilliance, as evidenced by that magnificent Leinster final goal against Kilkenny.

But Galway need the Portumna talisman operating at full tilt for the entire 70 minutes on Sunday.

Canning may feel that, if the right supply of ball isn’t coming his way, he may need to drift further out the pitch to exert an influence.

There seems to be little point in keeping him close to goal if the ammunition going into him isn’t of a frequent nature.

Even in defeat against Cork in 2008, Canning still managed to score 2-12, an indication that he can still deliver when Galway’s backs are against the wall.

But now, more than ever, the Tribesmen need Joe at his brilliant, consistent, best.

Joe Canning celebrates his goal Dan Sheridan / INPHO Galway need a big 70 minutes from Joe Canning. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

4. Can Galway recover from Leinster final defeat?

That’s the big question for their long-suffering fans.

It’s incredible to think that Galway haven’t won an All-Ireland senior title since 1988 but they have to jump three major fences to end that famine this year.

And when your team is utterly unpredictable, the fear is that the wait will extend into 2016.

Galway boss Anthony Cunningham was bullish in his post-match analysis of the Leinster final, even telling Kilkenny boss Brian Cody that he’d see him again before the summer is out, but talk is cheap and his players need to deliver.

Any pre-match analysis of a Galway championship game must be tempered with realism as it’s almost impossible to predict what team will turn up on the day.

Conor Hayes 15/7/2012 James Crombie / INPHO Conor Hayes is Galway's last All-Ireland senior hurling winning captain. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

5. Who’s better equipped to go all the way?

It would be a major surprise if either of these two teams finish the season as All-Ireland champions.

Galway will feel that they can go close but only if they produce the form that troubled Kilkenny for spells over the course of an entire 70 minutes.

When they’re in full flow, Galway are a joy to watch but teams can get a run on them and at stages like this, they need to hang in and minimise the damage.

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Cork will also feel that they’re there or thereabouts and their new-look system has definitely improved them.

Both teams possess deadly forwards close to goal, Canning and Cathal Mannion for Galway, with Conor Lehane and Seamus Harnedy in good form for Cork.

But the overall packages don’t look strong enough to push on and challenge for the big September prize.

Cathal Mannion celebrates scoring his side's second goal James Crombie / INPHO Cathal Mannion can hurt Cork on Sunday. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

6. Which manager will field post-match questions about his future?

Defeat for either team could signal the end of the manager’s tenure.

Cork boss Jimmy Barry-Murphy is already on the record as stating that he thought long and hard about committing for another year in charge.

And if Cork lose, they’ll bow out a round earlier than 2014, when they lost the All-Ireland semi-final to Tipperary.

JBM’s Galway counterpart Anthony Cunningham is enjoying his fourth season at the helm, a long stretch by the county’s standards.

Galway are a step further along the road in the All-Ireland series than last year, having contested a Leinster final.

But defeat would represent a major setback for a group of players that still believe they can finish the season as All-Ireland kingpins.

We’re not quite sure which manager will be quizzed about his future intentions after the final whistle but we do suspect that the losing boss won’t be sticking around for next year.

Anthony Cunningham and Jimmy Barry-Murphy James Crombie / INPHO Rival bosses Anthony Cunningham and Jimmy Barry-Murphy after the 2012 All-Ireland semi-final. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

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