Donegal to leave struggling Cork deeper in bother
Allianz National Football League Division Two: Cork v Donegal (today, 2pm, Páirc Uí Rinn)
SUFFICE to say that neither Cork nor Donegal have met their expectations thus far, but then there's more realism attached to those of the former than of the latter.
Not since the GAA introduced its tiered structure for the National Leagues some 35 years ago have Cork found themselves outside the top two tiers.
And yet their slide has been inexorable. Their win over Tipperary was never so badly needed. It was a first win of any description since they'd beaten the same opposition at the same venue in last summer's championship.
Ronan McCarthy has found himself under fierce pressure, with comments from his own former boss Larry Tompkins among those that touched a nerve. They are hanging on with a grip that will slip further if they fail to overcome Donegal this afternoon.
They've named Michael Hurley and Mark Collins in their full-forward line. They paired up against Tipp in an area that they've really struggled for consistency in.
Paul Kerrigan and Luke Connolly have both been playing further from goal. They've trialled Ruairi Deane inside but nothing is sticking, and that's been a major problem.
Donegal seem likely to start Michael Murphy and he'll provide a major test for Kevin Flahive should Declan Bonner ease him back in on the edge of the square.
Frank McGlynn and Neil McGee are also set to be part of the 26, which lost Martin McElhinney recently when he opted out, and will be without Odhran MacNiallais until at least the end of the league.
They've struggled more than most thought they would. They're a side with much more to give but they've been living off their reputation a bit through the league.
Six points from five games just about keeps them in the hunt but it could easily have been a very different story, with their wins over Armagh and Meath both in the ‘fortunate' bracket.
Michael Murphy's 1-2 and a sole Niall O'Donnell point were their only scores from play two weeks ago, and there has been a lack of fluidity about their attacking play.
Leo McLoone made a positive return against the Orchard, while Eoghan Bán Gallagher seems set to stay further out the pitch after an early-season run in the full-back line.
Cork are not the opponent they once were, and Donegal haven't been the opponent that they are.
The Ulster side's problem is the lesser of the two. They'll win and keep a bit of heat on those above.