THE national media attention recently has been about referees, red alerts, orange alerts, yellow alerts, weather, and of course the most talked about, the coronavirus.
These were the things on my mind as I travelled to the Cork-Galway game recently, and with the fields flooded on both sides of the road, I wondered would the game go ahead or not, and hoping that it would and that it would be a good game, because as we all know a good hurling game makes you forget a lot of things.
Going into Pearse Stadium, and all the hardy souls going to it, the talk was on the state of the pitch. And while it was very soft, as expected, it was ok for the game.
This was a very pedestrian game with no great excitement on the field or off.
It makes you wonder about the League.
A lot of these games look like glorified challenge games to me - teams just going through the motions - and that was very evident here in the first half, especially from Cork.
I noticed a lot of the Cork players hadn’t a mark on their snow white gear, and that took some effort.
With all the wides Galway had, and bad wides they were, you could say that Cork were in with a right chance at half time.
Cork didn’t even have one wide in the first half, with most of their scores coming from frees.
It just goes to show how dominant Galway were, and how much they wanted to win.
This is where, I believe, Cork have problems.
There are always games where you have to really grind it out and sometimes even when you are down to fourteen men it can galvanise you to do that.
I think this was an ideal game for Cork to do that, after Robbie O’Flynn was sent off - the referee had no other choice only to send him to the line.
I thought Cork would show a lot more fight after that incident, and they did for a while showing that toughness, which can make a team, but unfortunately they didn’t continue that, and the reason being that some of their players did not work hard enough, especially in their forwards.
I know the Cork defence get a lot of stick at times, but sometimes your defence starts in the forwards, and in my opinion the Cork forwards let the ball out too easy.
They are always looking for the perfect ball, and that is not going to happen, especially in a soft pitch in Galway. Maybe it wouldn’t happen on any pitch at any time of the year.
Those forwards have got to work a lot harder - it isn’t always about fancy stuff in the forwards - Cork need a few hard men up front to mix it up.
There is no doubting their hurling ability, but when you are up against guys like, Gearoid McInerney, Padraig Mannion, Shane Cooney, Fintan Burke, you have got to be able to match them for all aspects of the game, especially in the physical stakes.
They don’t take any prisoners.
At midfield for Cork, I think they allowed Cathal Mannion way too much room, and he is a guy who will punish - surprised they didn’t move Bill Cooper on him, as Bill is a very physical player as well. I think he would have been a better match up for Cathal.
In my opinion Mark Coleman was playing far too deep for Cork - I believe he should be going forward a lot more, as he has the capabilities to do that, and also to get on the score sheet.
Also Darragh Fitzgibbon needs to be on the ball a lot more - a man with massive pace and a great engine - didn’t see much of that in this game.
Then of course the Summer hurling will be different when he should really come into his own.
A lot of the Cork forwards seem to be out of form and they need to get that back, especially for the championship. Guys like Seamus Harnedy and Conor Lehane can up a level.
And although Patrick Horgan is getting a lot of scores, through frees, I think his general play could improve quite a lot as well. We need to see that work-rate, and the brilliant skills he has, being brought into general play.
Along with the other two, Patrick is crucial for Cork.
A big plus for Cork is that Shane Kingston is playing so well. It isn’t easy being Shane Kingston I think, as he is the manager's son, but I believe he is one of the best forwards Cork have at the moment, and he is there on merit.
I think Cork should get the ball a lot faster to him as he has a great eye for goal, but I believe he needs faster ball than he is getting now, as his pace is lightening fast - I also think he could play in the half forward line, where he could do real damage.
Tim O’Mahony proved that he can play in the forwards as well, as seen by the great goal he scored, but I suppose you can’t play him everywhere - but I think management need to make up their mind about him.
Sometimes moving a player around too much can have a negative effect. He is a big physical guy and Cork seem to lack that in their forwards so I would be for keeping him nearer the goal side.
Another plus for Cork is that Colm Spillane is getting back to full fitness. He can play in many defensive positions.
Also Niall O’Leary is coming back to form again, but like any team that wants success Cork have got to solve the centre of their defence.
If you look at any successful teams in the past, like Clare, Lohan and McMahon were the central defenders, while Cork had the Rock and Ronan Curran.
Limerick now have Mike Casey and Declan Hannon, Tipperary have the Mahers. Kilkenny had JJ Delaney and Brian Hogan. All successful teams that have won All-Irelands have that launching pad.
Cork have been lacking this in the last number of years, and the sooner they get men for these positions and leave them there, because its unsettling for the team, when you have different people in these roles on different days.
Cork seem to be swapping and changing too much.
But at least now they have a couple of months to get ready for the championship, as they are out of this league now. Maybe that is no harm either, as they can work away quietly now behind closed doors, and they know what they have to work on, and they know the important things they need to get right.
Sometimes that can be a big plus, away from the spotlight, and Cork never worried too much about the league anyway.
Kieran Kingston, Ger Cunningham and Diarmuid O’Sullivan will have some long nights discussing this team for championship in the next couple of months, and they are the only ones that really matter here.
After all its their decisions that will make this work... or not!