IN the wake of any championship defeat there’s going to be an inevitable backlash in quite a few corners, particularly so when the margin of defeat is considerable and that just a minority of your team played to the potential that they have.
In the situation that Cork now find themselves in after the loss to Tipperary last Sunday, they have to take any criticism that is levelled at them on the chin and move on.
One of the big positives in this new provincial hurling format is that you get an opportunity to make amends very quickly, to right the wrongs from one day to the next.
Cork must get this defeat by Tipperary out of the system quickly. Of course they must analyse where things went wrong and try as best they can to eradicate them. What better way to do that is to go into the parlour of the All-Ireland and National League champions and come away with the victory that will put them right back on course to be one of the three teams that will emerge from the province on June 16.
It’s a considerable ask, no doubt about that, but Cork teams have risen from the ashes of what can only be described as a bad defeat before and now they must come up with what you would describe as the answer to one of the most difficult questions they will face in this summer of hurling.
The likelihood is that none of the five Munster teams will end up with four victories out of four, Cork and Waterford certainly cannot not.
But the cause is not lost at all, more than likely it will be if the outcome from the Gaelic Grounds is similar to what transpired in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last Sunday.
Cork have one slight advantage going up the Ennis Road next Sunday, they have a hard, competitive match under their belts while Limerick are coming in that bit colder.
Of course, that might not matter one iota when the ball is thrown in and it’s just a case of wait and see.
Cork were described in this newspaper as leaderless yesterday, harsh you might say and you certainly would not include the outstanding Patrick Horgan and to a lesser extent newcomer Niall O’Leary and Eoin Cadogan in that category.
However, as a collective, Cork did not use Páirc Uí Chaoimh the way they were meant to, get in the faces of the opposition from the off, bully them and hassle them in the manner that should be done when you have home advantage.
Waterford woke up too late in Walsh Park against Clare after being second best by a distance prior to that.
The importance of home advantage, all the more so for your first game was stressed in the weeks leading up to Sunday and only Kilkenny of the teams that played over the weekend used that to their advantage.
The shoe is on the other foot now, Cork must get at Limerick in the way that Tipp got at Cork last Sunday.
That’s easier said than done, of course, because this is Limerick’s first home game of real relevance since their All-Ireland triumph last August.
They subsequently added the league title to that and the Gaelic Grounds will be rocking on Sunday with what is now a fanatical home support In the wake of Sunday’s loss to Tipp and the fact that the Limerick venue is not the easiest to get in and get out of if you are a supporter might reduce the away numbers to some extent.
Cork were without three key players against Tipperary and that has to be factored in when you examine the defeat.
Niall O’Leary was more than an able deputy for his club man at corner-back but Colm Spillane’s experience was a loss to the defence in general.
The industry and wholeheartedness of Bill Cooper was missing from the Cork midfield after his late withdrawal while the continuing absence of Alan Cadogan lessens considerably your penetration in attack.
Seamus Harnedy, Conor Lehane and Shane Kingston mustered up 1-8 between them and that’s not bad going but there is still far too much of a reliance on Patrick Horgan to do the bulk of the scoring.
If Horgan has an off day and the others don’t perform better for 70 minutes as a unit then you could be in right trouble Cork introduced three fresh forwards for the last 10 minutes but it didn’t make a whole pile of difference which leads one to believe that the depth of their resources is still not what is required, certainly not in the manner Limerick exhibited their bench last season.
It’s a well-worn belief, getting off to a good start in any game, that’s an imperative.
And that now comes into the equation a lot more for Cork in Limerick next Sunday.
Give Limerick, with a massive support behind them, any sort of foothold and you could find yourself seven or eight points down inside the first 10 or 15 minutes and chasing the game thereafter.
Cork simply must get at Limerick from the very first whistle There won’t be any great number of changes to the team, simply because those with the starting jerseys are still the best you have got.
They say league form does not count, maybe it does not but remember Tipperary came to Páirc Uí Rinn a couple of months ago and hammered Cork.
On the other side, Cork were the only side to inflict defeat on Limerick in the secondary competition.
Maybe there might be something in that that Cork can use on Sunday as Tipp did last Sunday.
This is simply a must win game for Cork now, another loss and the picture becomes very bleak The margin for error has been reduced considerably and this now becomes Cork’s most important game of hurling for a long, long time.