WHAT a great day in Mullingar.
The weather was beautiful, the pitch looking fantastic, great hospitality from the Westmeath, looking after everyone, and loads of Cork people taking selfies with the Joe Dolan statue in the middle of the town.
The great surprise to me wasn't the margin of Cork's victory, but the amount of Cork people who travelled with their children to support their team. Also it was wonderful to see the children being allowed to play out on the pitch at half time. This is the proper thing to do and encourage the youngsters to play the game.
Amazing too that both teams changed their colours before the game: Cork jerseys all white with a dash of red, and Westmeath togged out in green and white. I wonder were both teams asked to change? Very strange to me!
To the game itself, if you could call it that... once Alan Cadogan got the first point within 15 seconds, the writing was very much on the wall here. Cork completely dominant all over and you can't but wonder what is the advantage to any team, to either the winner or loser, to play in such a complete mismatch, what do you learn from something like this? From winning by so much or from losing by so much? Not a lot!
I said previously that Cork have been working away quietly for the last three weeks and you could tell that here in this game. They looked very sharp in their hurling, very sharp in their speed of thought, and their movement all over the pitch was excellent, but nowhere more so than in their attack.
Their inter-changing was excellent, their touch was first class, especially guys like Cadogan, who looked really on fire. He even had enough done at half time because Cork decided to take him off, which was the right thing to do, to save him for next Sunday when the test will be far greater.
Seamus Harnedy, who they also took off, was great as well and of course Conor Lehane and Shane Kingston. These are two players who really play on confidence and especially on getting scores, and they got scores at will in this game, and some fantastic scores at that.
Of course the three subs they brought on in the forward line, Robbie O'Flynn, Jamie Coughlan and Declan Dalton all did very well and got on the score sheet.
And this was a real confidence-builder for these guys.
But I think one of the real positives for Cork was the performance of Tim O'Mahony in the middle of the field. He distributed ball very well, a fine rangy athletic player and well able to take his score. I believe this could be his best position for Cork, and he has been tried in a lot of positions. He is a perfect link between defence and attack.
While there were a lot of positives about this victory, I think the Management team will have concerns about conceding a big score, as 20 points is quite a tally any day. Against better quality opposition that score could be a lot greater. While Christopher Joyce, Stephen McDonnell and Eoin Cadogan will be happy enough with their performance, they know they still have a lot to do to cut out these scores.
I am sure that will be said to them during the coming week. When guys like Killian Doyle and Eoin Price can cause you problems, while they are good players, they are not anywhere near any of the top attackers in the country. I think Joyn Meyler and his management team will have a lot of words with their defence this week and let them know that it is not good enough to concede scores as easy as that.
The big thing for me about this Cork team is wondering who the starting six defenders will be in Croke Park next Sunday, where there will be real opposition, and I suppose that is a headache for the management. It's probably a good way to be going into a game knowing everything isn't perfect.
It's grand having a real lethal attack like Cork have, but you have to get the backbone of your team right: your defence. I'm sure the players know that, and if they don't, they should be let know!
For Westmeath, I would think, all they can do is put it down to experience - they were way out of their depth here. I know people are making excuses that they had a match last Sunday, but I don't believe that is the reason. They are just not up to the top level, and there is nothing wrong with that.
That is the level they are at, and they are not going to reach the top level any time soon. I said previously, that before they reach the preliminary quarter-final, they should have to play either the fourth team in Munster or Leinster to get there. That would prove that they are good enough to be that far. I think that is the way to go for them.
It's tough on Westmeath to get defeated like they did, and I know Joe Quaid and his management team are putting a lot of hard work into it, but no matter what hard work you put in, sometimes it's not good enough, and that was the case here.
By the way, what a win for Eddie Brennan and Laois against Dublin, and playing last Sunday didn't affect them!
Next weekend should be a brilliant weekend for hurling and I'm sure Cork are really looking forward to going back to Croke Park and taking on the old enemy Kilkenny, a very different kettle of fish.
More about that on Friday.