HUGE disappointment for Cork’s football faithful after defeat to Tipp in the Munster final.
Here we look at three talking points from the loss.
1. CORK’S SLOW START:
There was always a danger this could happen to Cork.
After the wild celebrations following a stunning victory over Kerry in the rain, Cork had a job on their hands to bring the same intensity to the Munster final. The favourites tag weighed so heavily that it left them stuck to the immaculate Páirc Uí Chaoimh surface as Tipp set the tone from the throw-in.
Tipp had a game-plan that wasn’t too dissimilar to Cork’s against Kerry. Manic effort on the breaks and bodies behind the ball made it hard to find gaps to run through, while also cutting off long deliveries into Brian Hurley.
At the other end, Tipp moved possession with far more pace and purpose and Michael Quinlivan and Conor Sweeney did wreck inside. Though Cork did get a point ahead in the first half, they were basically chasing the game for the majority of the 70-odd minutes.
While the influx of youth into the Cork line-up this season was welcome, on the back of the U20 All-Ireland success last year, they looked very callow and raw here in comparison to their energetic efforts in the provincial semi-final.
Winning or losing frames how we view team selection, but with five of the six backs aged 22 or under, the management were certainly taking a risk. Losing Seán Powter to injury didn’t help of course but Paul Ring and Maurice Shanley were left isolated against veteran forwards of serious calibre far too often. Quinvlian and Sweeney ended up with 12 of Tipp’s 17 points as a consequence.
Colm O’Callaghan’s size and underage pedigree makes him a key figure for Cork in the future, but he didn’t have the nous to operate at the centre of Cork’s attack.
This defeat concludes Ronan McCarthy’s three-year term as Cork manager, though he’ll certainly be offered an extension if he’s keen to return. There have been a couple of highs and some deflating lows across his tenure but he has the groundwork done, and Cian O’Neill now at his side as coach, to take the team on again.
While he has refreshed the panel already, there are promising forwards like Blake Murphy, Mark Cronin and Conor Corbett with the potential to boost Cork’s options.
On that note, it was a pity, and a surprise, we didn’t see Paul Kerrigan in action. This season was most likely his last in Rebel red.