The Tony Considine column: Cork need more than skillful players, they need leaders

The Tony Considine column: Cork need more than skillful players, they need leaders
Cork’s Eoin Cadogan and Bill Sheehan of Kilkenny. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

LEAVING home in Clare, I said to myself, with the beautiful weather, saving your energy would be most important.

With all the roadworks on the motorway, even driving a car was a test but it was also ideal weather for hurling. I felt the one team this would really suit would be Cork.

We were always told that Cork loved hurling in fine weather. They started that way, with Alan Cadagon, Seamus Harnedy and especially Patrick Horgan, a Player of the Year contender.

He hit some brilliant scores. The second goal was a gem, down on one knee, a classic goal. The last man I remember to score off his knees was the great Brian Corcoran.

Patrick Horgan hits the net. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Patrick Horgan hits the net. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

At half time, Cork were in a good position, but after 10 minutes in the second half you could sense that Kilkenny were getting their measure. This was also down to bad option-taking and a real lack of leaders at a crucial time for Cork.

They allowed Kilkenny to dominate and not one Cork player stood up. Richie Hogan, TJ Reid and Colin Fennelly were showing great leadership and being backed up by Joey Holden, Paul Murphy and Conor Fogarty, as well as the youngster Richie Leahy. That’s a ‘must’ in Kilkenny under Brian Cody, and boy do they respond to that!

I was surprised during the week when I heard the Cork team and the changes. I believe they should have started the team that played last Sunday in Mullingar.

I think not playing Christopher Joyce was a mistake, and also not starting Shane Kingston. I’d have also started Tim O’Mahony in the middle of the field. O’Mahony really impressed in this game when he came on with his delivery of good ball into the full-forward line resulting in Cork coming back into it.

Kingston is a confidence player and to start him would have shown faith. By leaving him on the bench it had the opposite effect. The two first-choice players, Daniel Kearney and Luke Meade were both substituted and had no impact.

They say you should never change a winning team and I would agree with that no matter who the opposition is.

I believe Cork caused their own downfall here going with short puck-outs. This suited Kilkenny and especially the Kilkenny defence, because any time the ball was delivered fast and long, Cadagon and particularly Patrick Horgan were causing massive problems with their skill and touch and pace.

That is where the weakness was in Kilkenny and that is where Cork should have exploited it more.

I don’t know who was advising Anthony Nash regarding his puck-outs but he should have definitely seen where the weakness was in this Kilkenny team.

There is a lack of pace in some of these Kilkenny defenders and like all good defenders that lack pace, they love to see slow ball coming in, and that is what Cork did in this game.

This is a huge defeat for Cork. They just can’t seem to get over their Croke Park hoodoo. This is their third year in a row losing and you have to wonder if this group are ever going to achieve there?

You only get so many chances and when you get them you have to be well able to take them. Is there something mentally in the Cork heads when they get to Croke Park? They were always a Croke Park team before.

There will be a lot of questions asked after this. Questions can be asked all day but what are the answers?

Cork will need defenders and this has been known for quite some time. They just seem to concede scores too easily. They have to get smarter and more streetwise, and also put more aggression into their play, especially in that part of the field.

I think apart from Alan Cadagon, Seamus Harnedy and Horgan, Cork need some forwards as well to back up these three great players.

Tempers flare between Conor Fogarty and Daniel Kearney. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Tempers flare between Conor Fogarty and Daniel Kearney. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

As always, the first thing that will be looked at is the management. John Meyler has been there now for three years, two as manager and one as a selector.

Can John get any more out of these players? Apart from a Munster, which is no bad thing, he has failed to deliver the big prize.

Maybe it’s time to move on? I’m sure John will think about that himself as will the powers that be in Cork.

They all will know better after this defeat. In my opinion, when you have a few years with a team and you do not deliver, for yourself and the team, it is better to move on.

No matter who takes over it always comes down to the players. Cork have good, skillful players but they need leaders.

They have to look at teams like Kilkenny and follow their mantra. There will come a day when skill just isn’t enough, but a big hurling county like Cork will nearly always get it right.

It’s been a while now! A bad day and a bad weekend for Cork supporters.

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