CORK will have to go to a "dark place" in the All-Ireland quarter-final to match Kilkenny's nasty side this Sunday at Croke Park.
That's the view of Diarmuid O'Sullivan, former Rebel All-Star full-back who was never afraid to mix it when he was in pomp. The Cloyne native, now a GAA columnist with Paddy Power, feels the Cats will bite back after defeat in the Leinster final to Wexford.
"It will be about how many individual battles will be won, can you as a player win your one-on-one contest. I think in this kind of a game, you’re going to have to win 10 out of 15 personal battles to win. It’s all very fine to be skilful, but at times you just have to go to a place where you know you have to do anything to win.
"Kilkenny can do that, they can be in your face, they can be tough and they can be nasty. Cork are going to have to go to a dark place to match that. That’s the type of game it’s going to be."
While Cork and Kilkenny aren't front runners for the All-Ireland given the excellence Limerick showed in the Munster final against Tipp, the Rock still expects Sunday to be "raw and it’s unapologetic".
"It’s no-holds-barred stuff. Kilkenny would look at Cork and say, ‘they’re the aristocrats of hurling’. Cork, on the other hand, will believe Kilkenny are the same."
For O'Sullivan, the key will be Cork's front six clicking in tandem for the first time all summer.
"Cork have played with only two, or maybe three real forwards at a time. Aidan Walsh, who is primarily a workhorse.
"Then there’s Daniel Kearney and Luke Meade, who are playing a similar type role to each other. They’re constantly going back, receiving the ball.
"But if they’re doing that, Cork need to revert to a type of attack where they have four scoring forwards. That means Conor Lehane and Shane Kingston must come in," argued O'Sullivan in his column on Paddy Power's website.
"Go back to last year’s All-Ireland semi-final, Cork played with a similar kind of system. That’s where it kind of broke down."
The Cloyne native's former Cork comrade Tom Kenny has been brought into the backroom by John Meyler.
"It’s very rare that you’d see an addition to the management team in the middle of the championship. I only know Tom personally. I don’t know him from a coaching perspective. He’s been with a couple of UCC teams, development squads and bits and pieces down through the years.
"I’m not 100 per cent sure of his coaching credentials, because I haven’t seen him at work. But, as a man, he’s a top-class guy. He’ll give everything to the bunch of lads he has in there. He was always giving it on the field, so I wouldn’t see him changing his style as a coach.
"Tom is a clever, articulate guy. He knew how to maximise his own abilities as a player and how to maximise the guys who played around him. Hopefully, he’ll bring that positivity into the management set-up."