Cork boss Counihan wary of Mayo threat
All-ireland champions Cork may have sounded a warning with the manner in which they disposed of Down last weekend but manager Conor Counihan is playing down his team's role as favourites for tomorrow's quarter-final against Mayo at Croke Park (4.00pm).
Even without scoring ace Daniel Goulding, Cork still look a mean machine but Counihan, who will also be without Barry O'Driscoll and Graham Canty, believes that Mayo will have taken great heart from their Connacht triumph.
"Their confidence will be higher, that's for sure. James Horan has kept them in Division One and won a provincial title since taking over and that's good progress by any standards for a manager in his first season," insists Counihan.
Cork's task against Down was rendered rather easier because of the fragile nature of their opponents' defence and their vulnerability at midfield.
Aidan O'Shea and Seamus O'Shea will aim to offer a strong physical barrier to Cork in the middle third of the park tomorrow while Andy Moran, Alan Dillon and Enda Varley will be key figures in attack.
The Cork half-back line of Noel O'Leary, John Miskella and Paudie Kissane was hugely impressive against Down, thundering through time and again to impose fierce pressure on the Mourne rearguard.
They are capable of doing the same tomorrow especially if Aidan Walsh and Alan O'Connor manage to garner a steady supply of possession in midfield.
Up front, even without the imposing presence of the deadly accurate Goulding, Cork still carry a big threat.
Paddy Kelly was outstanding as the team's playmaker against Down, contributing much to his team's 12-point victory.
Paul Kerrigan's blistering pace and the unerring Donnacha O'Connor - he scored 1-7 in all - highlighted a performance by the Leesiders' forward division that has been duly noted by all those sides still harbouring hopes of capturing the Sam Maguire Cup.
The giant Nicholas Murphy comes in at full-forward in place of Goulding.
Ger Cafferkey replaces Alan Feeney at full-back for Mayo who face a difficult afternoon.
Cork: A Quirke; E Cotter, M Shields, E Cadogan; N O'Leary, J Miskella, P Kissane; A O'Connor, A Walsh; F Goold, P Kelly, P O'Neill; D O'Connor, N Murphy, P Kerrigan.
Mayo: R Hennelly; K Higgins, G Cafferkey, T Cunniffe; R Feeney, D Vaughan, T Mortimer; A O'Shea, S O'Shea; K McLoughlin, A Dillon, A Moran; E Varley, A Freeman, C O'Connor.