Diarmuid O’Sullivan: Cork need to aim higher than Munster titles now

The legendary Rebel County hurler looks ahead to his county’s meeting with Waterford and speaks on the potential departures of Michael Ryan and Derek McGrath….


From a hurling fan’s perspective, it’s very disappointing to have both Tipperary and Waterford gone out of the Championship so early in the year. That’s because the sport needs top quality teams like them and the great games they can supply. From a genuine Cork fan’s point of view though, it’s great that they are gone.

I’m not trying to be derogatory when I say that, but for a Cork supporter, seeing two of the biggest teams involved in the game over the last five or six years makes you believe there’s big opportunities ahead.

Babs is bitter and Ryan needs space

Michael Ryan was given a three-year term last September. Now, what any length of term means these days as a GAA manager, I don’t know. If they didn’t believe he was the right man back then, they wouldn’t have offered him that long.

They had no choice but to come out and back him because of that. Ryan will do a lot of soul searching and ask himself a lot of questions over the next few months like, if he is the right man for the job. Only he can answer that.

He delivered an All-Ireland title for them in 2016, so I believe he’s entitled to whatever amount of time he wants to decide on whether he wants to stay on or not. After what Michael Ryan has given Tipperary, it’s absolutely ridiculous for Babs Keating to want him out because Ryan still has a lot to offer.

Nothing surprises me with Babs Keating because he’s just a bitter, bitter man anyway.

He always has an opinion on something, he likes to be controversial and he’s not going to change at this hour of his life.

Jumping for Michael Ryan’s head is rash and a bit harsh considering all he’s has given to Tipperary hurling. At times things can become stale in a set-up, maybe Michael needs to look at the coaching staff around him and see can he improve things there.

Cork need to be thinking bigger

The back-to-back draws are a weird one without doubt. Cork have more Munster titles than any other county in the province, so do they need to add another Munster title to their tally? It would be nice certainly, but Cork must think bigger here. They really need to push on, win Sunday’s game, win a Munster title and aim higher.

I don’t believe too many people will be talking next year about who won Munster. You’d actually need a couple of seconds to think about it if you were asked who won it last year, whereas you’d know instantly that Galway won the All-Ireland.

It’s not the end of the world if Cork don’t win Munster, the prize they need to be eyeing up is the big one.

What The Rebels need to learn now is, when they are in a strong position and have teams on the back foot, they have to go after them and finish them.

They’ve been guilty of a bit of individualism in games, when there’s guys in better positions and you have the player in position taking on a wild shot or going for goal instead of passing the ball.

For example, Cork had a wonderful goal opportunity the last day against Limerick. Conor Lehane got the ball in the corner and had Shane Kingston inside him all alone. Lehane tried to beat two or three defenders, when the simple thing was to pop it to Kingston to get a goal and then the game was over.

Waterford should move mountains to keep magical McGrath

Waterford may have nothing to play for on Sunday, but it could very well be Derek McGrath’s last game in charge of them. He’s given them a hell of a lot. He’s a wonderful and dignified man, who has been brilliant for Waterford hurling. The Déise players must feel that they have to give this man something.

I believe they owe him a big performance on Sunday. He’s brought them a long way, to the top of the table for a long while to come. The Waterford County Board should probably bend over backwards to try and keep him, but to be fair, the question is does Derek McGrath really want to stay. Only he can answer that.

He’ll be a huge loss to top level hurling if he goes. His manner both on and off the field is a testament to himself. As a guy and a manager he’s wonderfully articulate, and I can never remember him ever saying a bad word against his players no matter what the result.

That’s a lovely trait to have.

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