Ref must clamp down on cynical stuff from Tipp if Cork hurlers are to prosper

Ref must clamp down on cynical stuff from Tipp if Cork hurlers are to prosper

Mark Coleman was outstanding against Dublin but Tipp will do everything they can to halt him in his tracks. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

CORK hurling manager Kieran Kingston would have been wise to plant a few seeds in the media before the qualifier against Tipp on Saturday by stating that he hopes the referee James Owens clamps down on cynical fouling.

In last season’s opening fixture in the Munster Championship between these two sides, the expectation was that the swift Cork attack would run at the likes of the Mahers and cause them considerable problems.

Unsurprisingly this did not transpire, as returning Tipperary manager Liam Sheedy was never going to go into such an important game without a thought-out strategy to negate his opponent’s apparent strengths.

Therefore, when the game started Tipp had a clear tactic of fouling Cork players the moment they gained possession anywhere around the middle of the pitch in order to prevent them from getting up a head of steam and breaching the Tipperary defence. The approach was not unlike Kerry’s approach last Sunday, where a Cork player was fouled the moment possession was won around the centre of the pitch.

Graeme Mulcahy of Limerick is tackled by Ronan Maher and Seán O'Brien. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Graeme Mulcahy of Limerick is tackled by Ronan Maher and Seán O'Brien. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Patrick Horgan ended up scoring 10 points from frees in the game, but Tipp seemed happy enough to let the Glen Rovers man chip away from dead balls rather than to concede scores from play and let Cork build momentum. 

They knew that, given the way Cork play, that they themselves would get ample shots on goal, so they clearly backed themselves to outscore Cork, which they duly did, winning 2-28 to 1-24. 

This approach also had the dual effect of guaranteeing that none of the Tipp defenders got overly exposed, while also ensuring that none of the Cork attackers got into full flow either.

Cork needed a strong referee that day, but Kilkenny’s Seamus Cleere let Tipp off the hook. If Cleere had issued a quick yellow to a Tipp player for cynical fouling early doors then the game could have turned out very differently.

And here we are nineteen months later and the Maher brothers will certainly not have gotten any faster in the interim. Sheedy’s side will have the same fears that they had last May and so they are likely to adopt a similar approach to putting the brakes on the likes of Shane Kingston, Robbie O’Flynn and Seamus Harnedy.

Cork would not normally become embroiled in such ‘campaigning’ but this is cut-throat hurling now and if Kingston could get into James Owens’ ear at all it could well be extremely advantageous to Cork on Saturday evening.

Kieran Kingston. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Kieran Kingston. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Mark Coleman is unlikely to get the same level of freedom against Tipperary as he got against Dublin last weekend. The Blarney man ran the show with a sumptuous display of ‘quarter-back hurling’ from deep, picking up popped passes from teammates and more often than not pinging them straight to a colleague in a more advanced position. 

Again, Sheedy will know that Tipp simply cannot let Coleman dictate affairs, and that is why he will not be let. Tipp will look to ensure that Coleman gets tied up in a man-marking role which would reduce his influence, as well as the quality of ball going into Horgan and co.

The upturn in Cork’s work-rate from the Waterford game to the Dublin match was extremely noticeable. A couple of blocks from Luke Meade and an excellent hook from Declan Dalton were the highlights but overall the intensity levels and aggression had increased considerably. In order to beat Tipp these rates will have to increase even further. 

Tipperary are a side that if you let them hurl they will hurt you. They have too many stickmen all over the pitch. They must be outworked. 

Colm Spillane of Cork in action against Ronan Hayes of Dublin. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Colm Spillane of Cork in action against Ronan Hayes of Dublin. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

That has to be Cork’s number one priority this weekend. No matter what happens, they must not be outworked by Sheedy’s side like they were by Liam Cahill’s Waterford two weeks ago.

The Cork footballers outworked Kerry on Sunday. All that hard work meant that the quality of ball going into the likes of David Clifford inside in the Kerry full-forward line was not of the silver service variety. The hurlers must do the same in terms of restricting Seamus Callanan and John McGrath’s influence on the scoreboard. 

They certainly cannot concede anything close to the 28 points in last year’s game against the Premier County.

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