Let me start by saying that Sunday’s performance from Cork was mediocre at best. It lacked a lot of things you’d hope there would be in a Cork team.
Whatever about the collective, it’s about time a couple of individuals started looking in the mirror and saying ‘is this really for me or have I enough of it?’
There’s no getting away from the fact it was a disappointing afternoon all around.
The Cork mentality has always been that we don’t play defensive systems, we go out to win the game. Cork’s best form of defence has always been attack, but maybe there was a bit of naivety there on Sunday.
Bill Cooper might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s the only one who can look at himself and say I gave an honest showing.
No one goes out to have a bad game or play second fiddle, but I believe large sections of that Rebels team will be disappointed with their own personal performance, let along the collective one.
Bear in mind Tipperary were away on a hard week’s training camp in Spain leading into Sunday’s game as well. Cork should have been the fresh team, but it didn’t look like it.
Those training weeks are no junkets either I can tell you. Your physical coach wants time with the panel, so does your hurling coach and even the video analysis guy. Tipp wouldn’t have come back full of energy I can tell you.
Where next for Cork?
The important thing to remember is that they have a game against Kilkenny next weekend. At least it will get rid of the suspension to Seamus Harnedy, so it serves some purpose even if people see it as a dead rubber.
The Cork management now need to define a system that will suit this group because a lot of guys are playing as individuals.
It has to be said, some of the more senior guys in that group have been really poor throughout the National League.
Real players know when things have to be brought up a level and when the standard isn’t right They also know what’s acceptable and what’s required to be an intercounty hurler.
As a management team, if you have to go in and tell a player over and over again what’s required, well, then it’s time to cut him loose. He’s not good enough or hasn’t the mental capacity to be an intercounty hurler.
Cork have a lot of work to do, it was chalk and cheese for large periods of the Tipperary game. The movement in the Tipp forwards was incredible, they were all comfortable in any area they found themselves in and it had the fingerprints of Eamon O’Shea all over it. Whereas, the Rebel forwards were constantly stuck in their own position.
We’ll have to see a very different looking Cork team come Championship.
Last year Tipperary and Waterford went out early in Munster and spent a long summer looking in at it all. As a Cork supporter, I really don’t want to be in that position this year, but they’ve got a lot of improving to do.
Can they do that? Of course, they can. We know the quality of player is there and that they’ve worked on the strength in depth of the squad.
Let’s allow them the freedom to get this right.
I know people thought I was harsh on Tim O’Mahony a couple of weeks ago.
Don’t get me wrong, Tim O’Mahony is a really, really good hurler and has all the attributes to be a very good centre-back.
Unfortunately, at this moment in time, he’s a failure of the system that Cork are playing.
He’s not a failure as hurler (I’ve such good time for his hurling), but too many times, he was found out of the middle hurling ball outside of the area he should be protecting. That happening again on Sunday.
That’s where the system is breaking down and it’s not knock on O’Mahony’s hurling ability.
Time for Harnedy to box clever
I don’t believe Seamus Harnedy has ever let Cork down and I’m not going to criticise a guy for a moment of stupidity – God knows I’ve had plenty of them!
What he did was rash, Seamus will know that. It’s his second time in the last 12 months doing something like it – Waterford last year being the other one.
He has to cut that out of his game and concentrate on being the Seamus Harnedy who is an exceptional hurler. He has all the talent to lead this Cork team in the right direction.
He needs to box clever in these situations. As captain of the team, his performance was poor up to that point, he felt a bit of pressure and it just came out at the wrong moment.
That happens, it’s part of life and top-level sport. He’ll put that behind him though, and Seamus will come back better and stronger.
It’s a mistake, he’ll learn from it and he’ll want to atone for that in the summer when Cork meet Tipperary in May. I’ve no doubt he’ll be one of the top four hurlers in the country the end of the Championship.