The Rock says Cork must show the same pride in the Rebel jersey in every game

The Rock says Cork must show the same pride in the Rebel jersey in every game
Robert Downey, Eoin Cadogan and Sean O'Donoghue block Aaron Gillane. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

DIARMUID O'Sullivan, who worked as a selector alongside current Cork boss John Meyler in 2017, was impressed the management had the guts to shake up the Cork team last weekend.

With four changes from the team that capitulated against Tipp in the Munster opener, Meyler and his management team threw the gauntlet down before their trip to the Gaelic Grounds and the reward was a rousing victory. 

"We are not within the Cork camp, so we can't say for sure that a ‘clear the air’ discussion happened. But, we can say that the management were willing to fall on their sword with their team selection," explained the Paddy Power Hurling Ambassador. 

"They made four changes beforehand and two of the guys they brought in had a huge impact in Bill Cooper and Alan Cadogan as an early substitute. Mark Ellis did reasonably well on his return, Robert Downey wasn't really directly involved in the game - but that's a good sign when you're a back, because it means your man isn't involved either. 

"Aidan Walsh made a big impression too. So, whether it was a clear the air discussion or just genuine player pride driving it, it didn't matter once they got the result. It doesn't matter if a group of players get on with a management team or not, it boils down to the individuals within the group. Whatever is going on in the camp, it still comes back to you and pride in the jersey you fill."

Cadogan clipped over 0-3 as an early replacement for Conor Lehane. The Rock believes he must start for the remaining games against Waterford, on June 8, and Clare in Ennis.

"Alan Cadogan absolutely must start for Cork from now on. When he plays like that, he'll cause any corner-back in the country problems. To get over 65 minutes plus injury time out of him answers a lot of questions about his fitness and he should be an integral part of the team going forward."

Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Speaking to Paddy Power, O'Sullivan praised the Rebel rearguard to the hilt. Aaron Gillane, so deadly in the league, was negated by Eoin Cadogan, while collectively there was serious physicality in every line.

"From the start of the second half on, Cork got a lot of joy from longer puck-outs. It gave them a platform to play with. If they weren't winning the primary ball, they were snapping up the breaks. 

"Another thing that had a big impact on the game was bringing on Stephen McDonnell - he completely nullified Mulcahy. He showed his man-marking abilities, even if he didn't do much on the ball.

"It was fantastic to see his full-back line colleagues, a young player like Niall O'Leary continue that with another great showing and Eoin Cadogan has been a big plus to Cork the last two weeks as well. His attitude and maturity has been spot on. 

"He was in one-on-one situations a few times and they are not easy for a back, but holding a player like Aaron Gillane to a single point from play says a lot about the job Eoin did. He's certainly justifying his inclusion at the number three spot."

Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

After being questioned a lot after last week, 10 points from play was a huge return from the Cork half-forwards.

"Getting 1-20 from play all in is an impressive return, whatever way you break it down. The 10 points from the half-forward line was brilliant, but it's no major surprise to me that the guys you want to have a big effect on the game - like Daniel Kearney, Seamus Harnedy, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Luke Meade - had a huge impact. They were always helped by Bill Cooper's industry and unselfishness in the middle of the field."

The standard of refereeing in the Munster championship needs to drastically improve according to the Paddy Power hurling ambassador. 

Though O'Sullivan was delighted that Cork defeated Limerick there were a number of questionable calls, while Conor Gleeson was sent off for Waterford in the first half of their hammering by Tipp.

"About five minutes before half time Paud O'Dwyer lost control of the game," stated the All-Ireland winning defender. "The yellow card Mark Coleman received was incredible. If I was still playing the game, I wouldn't have lasted 10 minutes!"

The Rock had already slammed Seán Cleere his handling of Cork-Tipp, where that looked like obvious fouls on Patrick Horgan and Darragh Fitzgibbon in the latter stages weren't punished.

"There were question marks over Sean Cleere, now you have Paud O'Dwyer from Sunday and don't get me started on the Tipp v Waterford game. There was no argument over the second yellow Conor Gleeson received, but I don't know what he was booked for at all, for the first one.

"If this kind of refereeing continues the cut and trust of the Championship is going to slowly disappear. I don't ever remember someone being killed from a bit of handbags!"

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