Horgan will be marked man so the rest of the Cork forwards simply have to step up

Horgan will be marked man so the rest of the Cork forwards simply have to step up
Cork ace Patrick Horgan will be well policed by Limerick. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

THERE was considerable criticism of Cork’s performance against Tipperary last Sunday and, to be fair, team boss John Meyler did not make excuses for the loss.

But then again that’s what you get from him, he’s straight to the point and he tells it as he saw it.

“I thought that Tipperary were more fluent, sharper, more mobile and they had better support play than us. They looked extremely hungry, they got a very good start with the goal, they got a good advantage on us early on."

Of course, what a lot of Cork supporters forgot afterwards was that the team had started without three key players from three key areas: Colm Spillane, Bill Cooper and Alan Cadogan.

When you lose a quality defender, a midfielder who thrives on the battle and intensity of championship and a forward who has the ability to leave the best of defenders floundering in his wake.

Any county would find it extremely difficult to adequately replace those players and the loss of the Youghal man before the throw-in was something that had to unsettle the team.

“It just meant reorganising, Bill is a fantastic player, a leader of the team really, he’s one of the senior members of the team so he was a massive loss to us.

“But that’s not an excuse really, you have to be able to lose one or two players through injury or whatever,’’ Meyler said in his post-match interview.

It was well known in advance that Colm Spillane was not going to be involved and his replacement, another Castlelyons man, Niall O’Leary was more than an adequate replacement. But there were other areas of the defence that Tipp exploited and if you had both Castlelyons players available it would have created greater options across that sector.

O’Leary was an outstanding centre-back for Imokilly last season and can really fit in anywhere in defence.

The big difference between Cork and Tipp last Sunday was the greater scoring power of the visitors.

Nobody these days puts too much store into league results in the spring, all the more so now when the same teams will be meeting again six or seven weeks later.

But should we dismiss the league that lightly?

When Cork and Tipp collided in the secondary competition in March, Tipp scored 1-29. Last Sunday they scored two more in amassing 2-28.

So, in two games, they put up 3-57 and if one was honest that tally should have been much greater because in both games they missed a lot of scores, scorable points and in the second half last Sunday they had four missed opportunities in a row which on another day could have cost them dearly.

And they made a hash of a penalty too.

But there’s no doubt they have much more scoring power than Cork have and there is not an over-dependence on one player.

There will be days when you will get away with just the one player claiming the bulk of the scores but other times you won’t.

Conor Lehane. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Conor Lehane. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

I suppose the clearest example of a team being almost a one-man band was Midleton’s county final win over Sars in 2013 when Conor Lehane delivered 2-10 from 2-15.

There have been other instances of individuals putting up huge tallies in both victory and defeat but an over-reliance on one player lessens your chances considerably Horgan’s statistic for last Sunday were broken down in this paper by the game’s best analysts, Christy O’Connor.

He pointed to the fact that from six possessions last Sunday the Glen man scored four incredible points. That’s to go along with his flawless display from the placed ball which returned 10 more points.

Limerick go into the big clash in the Gaelic Grounds with the benefit of being able to study Cork last Sunday from a seat in the stand, giving them first-hand knowledge of what this Cork team is about.

Last Sunday the Tipp half-backs of Brendan, Pádraic and Ronan Maher formed a wall across that sector that Cork could not breach.

On Sunday they will face an even better line of Diarmuid Byrnes, Declan Hannon and Dan Morrissey so there will have to be a better game plan.

There was a lot of doom and gloom around the city on Sunday and Monday after the Páirc Uí Chaoimh loss, all the more so with what was coming down the tracks a week later, that daunting trip to the Gaelic Grounds.

Luke Meade after the defeat to Tipp. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Luke Meade after the defeat to Tipp. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Maybe that was understandable but there should have been a realisation too that the greatest certainty about the Munster championship these days is its uncertainty.

There is no doubt that having secured two away day victories, Tipp and Clare are in the driving seat as regards qualification.

Cork and Waterford, on the other hand, are on the backfoot and will be even more so if they cannot produce the required response next Sunday.

But recent history has shown that on any given day one county can beat the other even when the odds might suggest not.

To use the old saying, one swallow never made a summer but neither did one defeat end it either.

A defeat can quickly be turned into a positive but only if you can reorganise, in Cork’s case and Waterford’s too, very quickly.

Meyler took than on board after last Sunday.

“Yeah, look it’s seven days out but that’s the beauty of the Munster championship. We just need to reorganise now and focus entirely on Limerick.’’

We’ll know a lot more on Sunday at around 5.30pm.

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