Diarmuid O’Sullivan: Rapid substitutions upset Cork’s balance and rhythm

The Cork legend also questions the timing of his county’s changes in the loss to Limerick and hits out a keyboard warriors doubting the heart of the team…


There’s a couple of things you could look at really to explain Cork’s loss to Limerick on Sunday.

The wides from The Rebels were a huge factor, they had 17 of them in total and that’s not healthy. Especially, when they came from fellas is in a strong and comfortable position to put the ball over the bar easily. It was sloppiness.

Add to that Cork only scored 1-01 from play and 1-04 in total from the 61st minute onwards.

That’s far too low of a return, there was 37 minutes of hurling played after that and Limerick grabbed a massive 2-12 in that time. 2-12 would nearly win you a full match sometimes!

The biggest factor though was the period in the second half when Cork were up by four to six points and they were comfortable, then within a nine-minute window the management made three substitutions.

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They brought on Mark Ellis, Robbie O’Flynn and Tim O’Mahony. You may have to introduce one, but then you have to leave it settle down again for a while.

It was three changes too quickly, it upset the balance and rhythm of the Cork team. Did any of the three of them offer anything to the game after?

I don’t know what Mark Ellis’ role with the team was and where he was supposed to be lining out when he came on the field. He came in midfield, I presume he was supposed to sit deep and protect the back six – but he spent most of his time at the attacking end of the field.

Obviously, they were aware of their roles, but it just killed the momentum The Rebels had. I thought Luke Meade was really impressive, if Cork were winning by 15 points that lad would be taken off for some reason. I don’t get why he was taken off.

I’m not sure what the Cork management were looking for at that time by making those three changes when they did. That period hurt them and they never recovered from it.

Let’s be honest, the referee Paud O’Dwyer won’t be on the Cork Christmas card list either. However, it was the timeframe from the start of the substitutions on that did the damage for Cork.

Brilliant bench tells for Limerick

A blitz from the bench came from Limerick and they just had more from their subs than Cork. It would be unfair not to highlight that.

Shane Dowling got 1-04, Pat Ryan got a goal and Barry Nash and David Reidy got a point apiece too. That was huge from them.

Cork’s lack of impact from the bench caught up with them. It’s something the management should have addressed and say ‘look, how do we make this stronger’.

We see what they had to reintroduce in extra-time, Kingston had to come back on, so did Daniel Kearney for short periods of time. They brought Michael Cahalane on and off again – I’ve no idea what was going on there.

At the start of extra-time Seamus Harnedy barely walked out of the dressing rooms, he could hardly go out onto the field and they persisted with him for six minutes – that’s criminal.

That’s putting you on the back foot straight away. Seamus is very honest, but there’s misplaced bravery as well and the management should have been strong enough to say ‘sorry Seamus, you can’t walk’.

Cork are no ‘bottlers’

Unfortunately, that’s the way some Cork supporters are and I’ve said it before, they’re very fickle.

Cork’s only aim yesterday was to make an All-Ireland final, they weren’t trying to lose that game by four points.

Limerick had more energy, they used the ball better and look at the quality of ball their inside forward line got – it was inch perfect. Where’s their credit?

This ‘bottler’ thing on social media disgusts me. If you are loyal to your team, you are loyal to your team – but again I’m not surprised.

I was walking out of the stadium after, there was two Cork lads there and they were having a right go about the team. I actually had murder with them and I looked the two of them in the eye and told them they were an absolute disgrace.

There’s no place for it, but that’s the world we live in. You can’t get away from it.

Limerick longing for an All-Ireland may end soon

You can see where John Kiely is coming from asking the fans and the media to leave the team alone. You saw how the Limerick support turned on them after the defeat in Ennis.

There was a big backlash there, and to be fair to John, he’s a very level-headed guy and I’ve unbelievable time for him, but they need to get their heads down.

It’s all very fine to ask the media and the fans to leave the players be, but they need to be able to separate and distance themselves from it as well.

Limerick are a physical side, but they have the hurling to go with it. They won’t fear either Clare or Galway.

If nothing else, wouldn’t they love a shot at Clare after what happened in Cusack Park. They’d relish a chance to meet The Banner in an All-Ireland final.

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What do you think?