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Cork wary of Tipperary

Wednesday, 18th November, 2020 5:46pm

It’s a Munster Football Final that many thought would not happen - well in terms of the pairing at least.

Given the way the draw panned out, Clare or Tipperary were always favoured to advance, but very few expected Cork to be the opposition.

Apart from our friends across the county bounds, one other man who must be scratching his head and wondering where it all went wrong is Colm Collins, the Clare manager. Operating and surviving in Division 2 of the National League, their subsequent loss to Limerick was a real shock, and as the results evolved, they would have fancied their chances had they made the final.

Not that Tipperary won’t fancy their chances, and having played and beaten Cork in the championship and league in recent years, their manager David Power will be drilling this into his players.

It is sure to be an emotional occasion, 100 years after the Bloody Sunday events in Croke Park. Tipperary will wear a specially commissioned jersey, of green and white, similar to the one worn by the men that played on that fateful day in 1920.

Will that have an impact on them? Well time will tell, but it can also be a distraction and if that happens it will affect how they perform.

For Cork it’s a tricky tie, this is a good Tipperary team and no matter what way it’s dressed up, Ronan McCarthy’s side will be favourites.

McCarthy is not unduly concerned about that tag: “It’s outside of our control and all we can do is focus on ourselves and make sure we are right for Sunday.”

Naturally he was delighted with the win over Kerry.

“It was brilliant, the lads worked very hard, stuck to the game plan from the off and executed it to perfection.”

The effort over the 120 plus minutes was phenomenal, he said. “When we got back training on the Tuesday a few guys, especially those that played most of the game, sat it out but nothing serious, just rest, and they got at it again then.”

Injuries are all part of the game and Cork had a few but some players will come into contention for Sunday, says McCarthy. “Brian Hartnett has a good chance of making it, but apart from the long term guys, everyone should be okay.”

The win over Kerry and the manner of it will give the team confidence going forward. “You would hope it would and I am sure it will,” says McCarthy, “as a team we needed to beat a top level county, something we had not done in a few years, so from that point of view it was important.”

Equally important was the performance of the younger players, especially those making their championship debut: “That will help the development of the team, they all acquitted themselves very well, including the lads that were introduced.”

McCarthy was especially thrilled for man of the match against Kerry, Sean Powter. “When you consider it was his first championship start since 2017, it shows how much of a loss he was to the team and how much he missed out on. He has a great attitude and got his just reward for the hard work he has put in.”

The manager, though, is conscious that they face a tough test: “We know it’s going to be a different game to the Kerry match, and we have played Tipperary enough over the year to know their quality, we played them in the league early in the year and won a tight game.”

As for the venue, McCarthy is pleased, even if early results in the Páirc were not too kind.

“I think we won just one game out of seven in my first couple of seasons, but now we like to think of it as a fortress. We are used to playing there, and with no travelling involved, it makes it that bit easier, but we will prepare as we did for Kerry and get on with the task in hand.”

Tactically it will be different to the Kerry game, Cork might not set up as defensively, but the workrate and resolve along with the patience they showed will be the same.

Micheal Aodh Martin is in excellent form in goal, he made a vital save in the first half, while Kevin Flahive, Mattie Taylor and Kevin O’Donovan gave great support to the newcomers in defence.

Killian O’Hanlon and Ian Maguire put in a great shift in midfield and they should do so again which should give the forwards a platform to deliver.

Brian Hurley, Mark Collins and Ruairi Deane were outstanding, while the contributions of substitutes Luke Connolly (0-3), Paul Kerrigan and Michael Hurley were very effective, not forgetting Mark Keane.

The starting 15 will be watched with interest, but it also shows the depth of the panel which is a very good indication of the direction that the team is moving in. Tipperary were somewhat lucky to get over Limerick after extra-time, and that equalising point by Conor Sweeney was something special.

Apart from Sweeney, the addition of Colin O’Riordan is a huge bonus, he’s a very good player. Michael Quinlivan, Evan Comerford, Bill Maher, Robbie Kiely, Jack Kennedy and Emmet Moloney all made important contributions in that game as it was drifting away from them, but they hung in there and got their reward.

The fact that Limerick ran them so close must be a concern, and they will need to produce a much better display if they are to defeat Cork, but that is well within their capabilities.

Cork, though, will have been boosted greatly by the win over Kerry, that and an unbeaten league campaign and those games in last year’s Super 8s will all stand to them.

I have no doubt the Cork management team will have prepared just as diligently for this game as they did for Kerry, and they will have their game plan worked out, and expect and demand that the players carry it out.

If Maguire and O’Hanlon gain an edge in midfield, I feel the Cork attack should have enough firepower to point the way to victory, and in the process, set up a 6 December All-Ireland Semi-Final against Mayo.

Cork to win in a game that is live on C103.

Hurlers bow out

It was a disappointing result in Limerick where Tipp got the better of Cork and advanced to the All-Ireland Quarter-Final, bringing the curtain down on Cork’s season.

Manager Kieran Kingston was very downbeat when I spoke to him after the game, he felt it was a match they could have won and at times were in a position to do so.

Injuries did not help, the loss of Alan Cadogan and Darragh Fitzgibbon from attack were blows and the latter showed what he is capable of when he was introduced. Eoin Cadogan’s experience in the trying conditions of last Saturday would also have been an addition.

What now for Kieran and his management team as they ponder on the depth of the panel, several of whom are on the wrong side of 30?

Will they be retained or will they draft in a younger brigade who might lack the experience at this stage, but the only way to rectify that is by giving them game time?

It is understood that the 2021 league is due to start in February as the actual shape of the intercounty season for next year remains to be clarified.

Whenever it starts, the management will have some big and vital calls to make in the coming weeks, the outcome of their deliberations could shape the future of Cork hurling for the next few years.

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