ANOTHER All-Ireland hurling final, and hopefully we will see a better contest than we saw last Sunday.
I’m sure we will, because, in my opinion, it wouldn’t take too much to be better the senior game.
This is the final that everyone wanted, especially after the brilliant Munster final. That was the best game of hurling we have seen so far this year, a terrific contest, and you would have to say, stolen by Tipperary at the death, with an excellent goal by Jake Morris.
Both Cork and Tipperary also met in the Munster final last year, 2018, Cork recording a big win. Then they met again in the All-Ireland final, when Cork were unbackable favourites. As we know, Tipperary surprised everyone and completely reversed the Munster final result.
A huge disappointment for Cork. I still remember meeting a lot of Cork supporters after the game, some of them stunned and angry at how poor the Cork team had performed, but also at some strange decisions made by management. Anyway that was last year.
Now Cork are back again to try to make amends and try to win a championship that you could say they last won in 1998 when it was U21. That win was the start of a great era for Cork and some brilliant players came off that team, and many went on to win Senior with Cork afterwards.
Some household names like Donal Óg Cusack, The Rock, Wayne Sherlock, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, Ben O’Connor, Timmy McCarthy, Mickey O’Connell and that prince of forwards, the brilliant Joe Deane.
They played at the top level for a long time after that win. Cork needed that win at the time, but I don’t think they needed it as badly as they do now.
This is a huge game for Cork. I believe it will have a massive impact on these guys hurling careers, as they are well aware that Cork hurling is in bad need of an All-Ireland hurling title at any level.
There is a lot of pressure on this team to deliver and Denis Ring and his management team know that as well. They need to have their homework done here especially after losing to the same opposition last year and again this year.
Whatever about last year, Cork were definitely in the winning position in the Munster final this year. Do they believe they can win? They know they are good enough, but there is a difference in being good enough and performing.
This is where strong and positive management comes in. They must get the lads to fully believe in themselves. Sometimes that takes a lot of pain and hurt to go through the barrier, putting your body on the line for the cause, and never stopping until the final whistle.
It means going with your plan and whatever tactics you bring to the game and sometimes players having to change tactics themselves and having the confidence to do it and to lead from the front. It’s the little things that can make the biggest difference.
Cork will need big support on Saturday and I’m sure they will. Tipperary who are on a high at the moment will bring a massive crowd to the Gaelic Grounds as you would expect them to.
Cork will need to be a lot better than they were in the semi-final. Their defence will have to be really sharp.
James Keating and Sean O’Leary-Hayes will have to marshal the centre of their defence and along with Ger Millerick and Robert Downey they will also have to get on top of Gearoid O’Connor, Billy Seymour, Conor Bowe and Jake Morris. These are forwards that can do serious damage if given half a chance. They will need to play it bumper to bumper here and not give an inch.
Also in midfield, Ryan Walsh and Daire Connery will have to be on top of their game. Both guys are well capable of scoring, but I also think they will have to do a lot of marking on Ciaran Connolly and especially Jerome Cahill. Cahill is a very elusive player and has had experience of playing senior with Tipperary this year. You could say he was a member of the All-Ireland senior panel last week.
But the real strength of this Tipperary team lies in their half-back line in Eoghan Connolly, Paddy Cadell and Bryan O’Meara, they are the launching pad of this team. They were superb in the Munster final this year.
Sean Twomey, Craig Hanifin and the man that was brilliant in the semi-final Tommy O’Connell, will have to work extremely hard here and stop the supply going up the field and try to get on the scoreboard as well. If they can do that they will put their team in a great position.
I think where Cork can do serious damage is if they can get fast and direct ball into their full-forward line. In Brian Turnbull and Shane O’Regan, they have two lethal finishers that can cause serious damage, but that ball has to be very fast going in.
I believe Cork will need goals and these are the boys that can get them with the proper supply.
Tipperary hurling is on a high especially this week and the confidence of their players, particularly the three who were part of the senior panel, Cadell, Cahill and especially Morris, who will be dangerous if given the space. As Cork well know!
Tipperary are favourites especially after their semi final performance against Wexford, but as I said before, Cork badly need a hurling title.
It’s up to the players now. Over to them.