The Tony Considine column: Lesson from Ennis is Cork's hurlers need to show more bite

The Tony Considine column: Lesson from Ennis is Cork's hurlers need to show more bite
Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

BEFORE I get into the championships so far, I have to say that it’s sad to see that three top hurling counties, Clare, Waterford and Galway are already on their summer holidays.

And it could easily have been some of the other top hurling counties.

No insult intended to Westmeath and Laois but they are still in the championship and not having played any of the top teams. Galway and Clare have beaten some of the best and are out on scoring difference.

In my opinion, Galway and Clare, should have been playing either Westmeath and Laois to get back into the preliminary round. Anyway, that’s not going to change and it’s just my personal opinion.

Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

We are a week away from both provincial finals, and while I’m in the form for giving out, I think it is absolutely ridiculous to have these two games on the same day, and miles apart. It’s not the way to promote hurling.

Why not play them over the weekend?

One on Saturday evening and the other the following day. I think it would be great for all hurling followers and they could alternate the Saturday/Sunday every year.

Perhaps someone in the higher office will take heed.

Now, to the games so far. Munster has been disappointing this year. One thing I have noticed, for a number of years now, is that the real intensity has gone out of it, even with the supporters.

I remember one time in the 90s when Tipperary and Clare rivalry was at its highest, not a ticket to be got. Actually, people would eat the hand off you for a ticket, and there was a great bit of bite on the field of play as well. Intensity at its highest.

It was the same with Cork and Waterford in the noughties when the battles were ferocious and the crowds really got involved as well. Great players having a massive battle and brilliant individual battles all over the field. Again tickets as scarce as hen’s teeth!

Different times now, even though it’s not that long ago. But it looked to me at that time that players and supporters enjoyed it more.

The only game in Munster this year that had some battle in it was the Cork-Limerick game with Cork under a lot of pressure having lost their first game to Tipperary.

They came to the Gaelic Grounds with real intent and tore into Limerick from the word go. They gave their best display of the season so far with every single player giving his all.

It shows what a team can do when their hurling season is on the line. But they haven’t repeated that kind of performance since.

Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

That seems to be a problem for Cork in the last number of years: inconsistency. Not alone from match to match but during matches as well. They seem to lose their concentration and allow the opposition back into the game even when they are in control.

While they have some of the most skillful players left in the championship sometimes they don’t put it together as a team. Their unity of purpose at times can be questioned. An example of that was in Ennis last week against Clare when one of their players was ‘manhandled’ by one of the Clare management.

Not one of the Cork players reacted when they had every reason to. It would have shown that they were not going to be bullied anywhere or by anyone, like Cork teams of the past. You can’t be nice every day!

Cork need to show their teeth more in these situations. They will have a big say if they develop that. A few hard men never did any harm.

Tipperary are the team showing that kind of fighting spirit. Really skillful players, can take scores in the blink of an eye, playing very direct hurling and playing every game to win. Not alone that they are playing every ball to win.

Liam Sheedy has them really focused and up for battle every day. From midfield up, Tipp seem unbeatable with Noel McGrath controlling things and surely having one of his best years for Tipp.

Then you have quality forwards, Bubbles O’Dwyer, Jason Forde, Seamus Callinan, and John McGrath. But they suffered a big loss the last day with the real hard man of that forward division, Bonner Maher, picking up a serious injury. A massive loss for Tipperary and very hard on the player himself.

Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

But it’s from midfield back that Tipp could have problems. Pádraic Maher is the strong man of the team and a real warrior, but he is not getting any faster and this is a problem with most of their defenders, a lack of pace.

And now their fastest and probably best defender, Cathal Barrett is out injured.

Limerick have been hot and cold as well. Leaving off some of their best players against Tipperary the last day, I think, was sending out the wrong message to hurling people.

To Leinster. While Wexford and Kilkenny were expected to come out of it, the real surprise was Dublin, but fair play to them they did it against all the odds.

Leinster has been the better championship so far. Nothing between any of the teams as proved when they all finished on the same number of points — scoring difference deciding the fate of Galway.

That’s how it works I suppose. But I think the games are going to get way better for the remainder of the year — and they would want to.

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