Dream draw for neutrals but Tipp will ask questions about Cork hurlers' true form

Dream draw for neutrals but Tipp will ask questions about Cork hurlers' true form

Bill Cooper of Cork in action against Riain McBride of Dublin. Next up is All-Ireland champions Tipperary. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

THE draw for the second round of the All-Ireland hurling qualifiers could not have worked out better for the neutral supporters.

A renewal of the age old rivalry between Cork and Tipperary and a renewal of hostilities between the former Clare greats, Davy Fitzgerald and Brian Lohan, now at the helm for Wexford and the Banner County respectively. In terms of appeal, it does not get much better than that.

Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald speaks to his players. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Wexford manager Davy Fitzgerald speaks to his players. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

If given the choice, both Cork and Tipperary would probably have preferred to avoid each other but, as they say, it is what it is now.

Over a week and a half ago, both sides were not in a good place, Cork very poor in their defeat by Waterford and Limerick well and truly over Tipperary.

For Cork, however, a week later the story was much different and they were a transformed unit in their defeat of Dublin.

They had managed, with a lot of authority, to get the loss to Waterford out of their system and the future looked a lot brighter.

Tipperary, on the other hand, have not had a game since that loss to Limerick and as a result, they have not had the opportunity that Cork had, to put a bad defeat behind them.

Maybe the extra week on the training ground will benefit them when they square up to their old foes next weekend.

But, of course, there is plenty of history to illustrate that a Tipperary team is more than capable of bouncing back from a bad defeat.

And they have had team boss Liam Sheedy at the helm when they did it.

We can all remember them when they were put to the sword in Páirc Uí Chaoimh 10 years ago by Cork but a few months later they ended up in Croke Park with the McCarthy Cup in their possession.

They got mauled by Limerick in Munster last season as well but again were capable of reinventing themselves to finish up with the McCarthy Cup again.

The latest episode of Cork and Tipperary hurling is a massive game for both counties and there might be a perception that Cork are slightly in a better place going into it.

That is based on the fact that they have had the opportunity against the Dubs to dust themselves down, regroup and put in a very strong showing.

Alan Nolan and Anthony Nash. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Alan Nolan and Anthony Nash. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Tipp will be going in solely dependent on how things have gone in training, some A versus B games, and maybe a game against their own U20 team.

There’s a difference too this season insofar as this is more of an aging Tipperary team, one with huge experience admittedly and with players who know what it takes to win an All-Ireland.

Against Limerick in the Munster championship defeat some of those older players struggled, wonderful servants like Pádraic Maher and Seamus Callanan.

Maher was replaced during the course of the game and Callanan was held scoreless.

Pádraic Maher. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Pádraic Maher. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

They have the success of the U21 All-Ireland and the U20 All-Ireland in 2018 and 2019 behind them but it’s taking time for some of those players to make the breakthrough to senior ranks.

It will be hugely interesting to see later in the week what Sheedy and his management team will do in terms of team selection for this do or die effort with Cork.

Will they react in a similar fashion to what Kieran Kingston and his selectors did after the loss to Waterford, make five changes, one-third of the team being replaced.

Kingston gave youth its fling with the likes of Deccie Dalton and Jack O’Connor getting the nod and justifying their selection.

The other changes to the side that had lost to Waterford, Luke Meade, Colm Spillane and Robbie O’Flynn coming in worked the oracle too to a considerable extent.

So you would be right in suggesting that Cork are in a good place facing into the showdown with Tipperary and if the status quo prevails with the 15 starters you have plenty of experience on the bench.

If Tipperary are to ring the changes, Sheedy will, in all probability, be going back to experienced hands like Seamus Kennedy, Dan McCormack, ‘Bonner’ Maher, John O’Dwyer.

Similar to his Cork counterpart Kingston who had big calls to make after the loss to Waterford, Sheedy has big calls to make with his team selection for the weekend.

There was an acceptance after Cork’s loss to Waterford that things could not be as poor again and that with surgery things should get better against Dublin. And that’s the way it panned out.

Chris Crummey of Dublin in action against Damien Cahalane. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Chris Crummey of Dublin in action against Damien Cahalane. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

The belief is it will be the same with Tipp and they won’t be as lacklustre again against Cork. On and off the field, Cork came up with the goods against the Dubs, now Tipp must do the same against Cork.

It promises to be a fascinating battle for supremacy with everything on the line.

A real winner takes all game. Can’t wait for it.

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