Leesiders looking to Loughrey for final at Croke Park
Disappointment may have been the lot of his native county in Division Four of the Allianz Football League but tomorrow former Antrim ace James Loughrey will bid to get among the honours when he lines out with Cork against Dublin in the final at Croke Park.
Loughrey has been producing fine form in the Leesiders' defence lately, never more so than in their semi-final win over Donegal.
But tomorrow along with his rearguard colleagues he will be expected to keep tabs on a Dublin front line that is laced with considerable scoring power.
The Dubs will be going for their third consecutive league crown but were given a rare fright by Monaghan before winning a closely-contested semi-final by a solitary point.
Manager Jim Gavin certainly pulls no punches as he assesses his team's chances in the game, which could give a meaningful pointer to the All Ireland championship.
"Our decision-making was poor at times against Monaghan and it was only in the closing minutes that we managed to get over the line," said Gavin.
While Loughrey, Michael Shields, Jamie O'Sullivan and Tom Clancy will help to underpin the Cork defence, Diarmuid Connolly and Dean Rock in particular have the capacity to wreak havoc for a Dublin side that is keen to show a big improvement on their performance against Monaghan.
Cork will look to Fintan Goold and Eoin Cadogan to give them a foothold at midfield. And up front, the Rebels possess outstanding finishers in Brian Hurley and Colm O'Neill.
O'Neill in particular has shown a penchant for grabbing important goals and is revealing remarkable composure and artistry for a player who has suffered three cruciate ligament injuries.
Yet when the chips are down, Dublin usually manage to pull something out of the bag and the fact that they covet a hat-trick of league crowns and have impressive resources on the bench might just help them to retain their trophy.