Last-chance saloon for some Cork hurlers in Dublin encounter

Last-chance saloon for some Cork hurlers in Dublin encounter

Tim O'Mahony is likely to start in the half-back line again for Cork against Dublin, with plenty to prove after the Waterford loss. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

SATURDAY: All-Ireland hurling qualifier: Dublin v Cork, Thurles, 3.45pm. Live on Sky Sports Mix.

THE first question to be posed here is, what Dublin team will turn up for this make or break encounter?

Will it be the one that departed the Croke Park pitch at half-time against Kilkenny 16 points in arrears or will it be the one that came back out, wiped out that Kilkenny advantage to draw level before subsequently losing by a point?

One did not get to witness the game on TV but it must have been an extraordinary one.

When was the last time a Kilkenny team under Brian Cody lost such a huge advantage?

They did get over the line in the end but surely the Dublin players under Mattie Kenny left the ground on Saturday in a positive mood, probably kicking themselves at what they were capable of in that second-half comeback and not doing it earlier.

To use the old adage, this was a Jekyll and Hyde display from the Dubs and nine times out of 10 that will fail.

In any game, in any code, consistency is the key word, being consistent during the duration of the game.

That lack of consistency has cost better teams than this Dubs hurling team but that second-half performance will have thrilled the management.

And let’s not forget, Dublin defeated Galway last season in the Leinster championship group format.

They subsequently lost to Laois which was an example of their inconsistency from one game to the next.

They made up for that the weekend before last when they trounced that same Laois team and in the two games they have played now they have scored 4-53 and that level of scoring suggests that they have plenty of attacking power.

In losing a game you can take away so many positives and Dublin surely will from last weekend's loss.

A lesser team, all the more so when you are facing Kilkenny, could easily have thrown in the towel at half-time.

But this Dublin lot certainly did not do that and their next 35 minutes showed exactly what they can do.

In this Dublin team, there are a lot of very good hurlers. Donal Burke is a prolific scorer, mainly from dead-ball situations but he can deliver from play too.

Chris Crummey, Danny Sutcliffe and Liam Rushe are hugely talented and experienced while Eamon Dillon posted four very good points against the Cats.

Walter Walsh of Kilkenny gets hooked by Danny Sutcliffe. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Walter Walsh of Kilkenny gets hooked by Danny Sutcliffe. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

The one big negative from last Saturday was their concession of 3-20 and that leakage in defence has to be addressed this week.

But while they lost they are probably in a better place than Cork were this week after their disappointing loss to Waterford when so many of their players did not perform to the required level.

And when you finish a game as strongly as Dublin did as compared to Cork’s lack-lustre effort for the vast majority of their game, the pendulum might be swinging Dublin’s way going into this game.

At the time of writing and with no team being released until late on Friday night, we don’t know what the Cork management will do in addressing the problems shown up against Waterford.

There will be changes and there must be a lot better effort from a lot of players.

You could say that only Patrick Horgan, Shane Kingston and Mark Coleman performed to the required level last weekend.

Bill Cooper. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Bill Cooper. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The attack as a unit must be a lot more functional and if Cork are to stay in this championship everybody must stand up to be counted The likelihood is that there won’t be wholesale changes given the magnitude of what’s at stake.

The likes of Robbie O’Flynn, Deccie Dalton, Aidan Walsh, if he’s fit, Colm Spillane, if he’s fit, Eoin Cadogan, if he’s fit, Stephen McDonnell for his experience must enter the selection equation.

Could we see one or two of the Rockies contingent that were so impressive in winning the county come into the reckoning?

One way or the other, Cork must be a lot lot better this time and the work rate and intensity must improve considerably There was too much sloppy play overall against Waterford and any repeat of that could be very costly.

This may very well be the last chance saloon for a lot of these Cork players. 

They have been heavily criticised this week from a lot of quarters and now is the hour to answer that criticism.

You would like to believe that the tide can be turned back in their favour and the management have a big role to play too in persuading the players that there’s much more in them.

If there is, they'll win this game, if there’s not, the season is over and so might a lot of inter-county hurling careers.

We’ll stick with them.

Verdict: Cork.

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