I WAS at the Gaelic Grounds very early on Saturday.
There was a great buzz around the place. Cork and Tipperary people turned up in their thousands.
Everyone really looking forward in anticipation to a great All-Ireland, especially after the thriller these two served up in the Munster final.
Confidence was evident in both sets of supporters. Tipperary of course going for the double, and still on a high after last Sunday, and Cork very anxious to topple them and make up for the Munster loss.
There were more Cork supporters than Tipperary supporters in the large crowd. Yet once again they were very disappointed.
The saying, ‘Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice shame on me’, comes to mind here. That’s how Denis Ring and his management team must feel after this.
The word from Cork supporters here, and this is very big for Cork people to say for a county of such tradition, is ‘embarrassing’.
It’s not often you hear a Cork person saying that, but a lot of them said it after this.
Denis Ring and his management team have to take a lot of the blame here. Denis is with this group of players now for a few years and he has not delivered. Losing an All-Ireland minor, losing an U21 and now an U20.
This team were not ready for battle when the ball was thrown in, the exact same as last year only this year it was twice as bad. Tipperary had scored four goals after seven and a half minutes, without a tackle or a Cork player laying a hand.
Now, the first 10 minutes of any game are crucial, you may not win it, but you definitely should not lose it, and that is exactly what happened here.
Did they think it was a tea party they were going to in the Gaelic Grounds?
That’s what it looked liked. Loose Tipp men all over the place, playing the game as they liked and scoring at every opportunity. And Cork fellas admiring them doing it.
What were they doing in the lead up to this game?
Were they aware they were in an All-Ireland final against their greatest enemy?
Or were they made aware of it which is more important?
Every game you play always has a war effect for the first 10 to 15 minutes. This is where you test your opposition and see what they are made of. This is the one thing Cork did not do.
They were beaten in every department. They were not up for the fight, or the war.
Before the game I said that strong management is very important and that they could not afford to make mistakes like did last year.
Also, that they would need to have their homework done and also that they had been forewarned by Tipperary’s display against Wexford when they scored eight goals, but despite all Cork were not forearmed.
Again, Denis and management team will have to take responsibility. The changes they made before this game were not good. Taking Sean O’Leary-Hayes out of half-back and putting Conor O’Callaghan up did not work at all as Jerome Cahill did awful damage there. As did Billy Seymour at full-forward.
Surely O’Leary-Hayes at centre-back would have stopped that flow? Jake Morris was getting the better of Ger Millerick as well. Now you had two of the main defenders under pressure.
The defenders showed no intensity at all in attacking the ball, standing off their men completely. Their first touch was very poor and their aggression non-existent.
It’s no wonder Tipperary got all those early goals!
Tipperary’s defence was completely on top as well. Craig Morgan really led by example, what a captain this fella is, outstanding in this game and showing fantastic leadership.
He was backed up by Paddy Cadell, Bryan O’Meara, and Eoghan Connolly. These guys showed plenty of aggression as well as plenty of hurling, getting on top of Sean Twomey, Shane O’Regan, and Brian Turnbull, shutting out the first hint of danger and not allowing Cork’s forwards any leeway at all. That’s how defenders should play, very direct in their hurling too.
Liam Cahill has a great record with these players and along with his coaching team he has delivered three All-Irelands for Tipperary: minor, U21 and now U20. Great credit due to him.
There’s a blue wave coming from Tipperary and they are very much on top at the moment. That’s what good management and good coaching does for a county.
I think the opposite can be said for Cork. There is a lack of good coaches and managers. This has been proven over the last number of years.
John Meyler is gone from the senior role and now Denis Ring will probably go at underage. This team has gone back a lot since the Munster final. They should have been a lot more competitive in an All-Ireland.
They only showed that in the last 10 minutes when Tipperary took their foot off the pedal.
Another poor hurling year for Cork and supporters are getting fed up. I know this may not sound good to a lot of Cork people, but maybe it’s time for them to look outside for coaches.
Tradition says they don’t do that, but sometimes you have to change to go forward. There are a lot of quality managers and coaches around in other counties. They should not rule it out.