Diarmuid O'Sullivan: Too many of the Cork forwards went missing in the Páirc

Diarmuid O'Sullivan: Too many of the Cork forwards went missing in the Páirc
Conor Lehane is fouled against Tipp. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

HURLING legend Diarmuid O’Sullivan is still hopeful Cork can get their season back on track after a dismal display in defeat to Tipp last weekend.

John Meyler’s charges head to Limerick this Sunday as outsiders following their efforts at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. O’Sullivan, a columnist with Paddy Power News, is expecting the Rebels to come out fighting after the “bubble burst” against the Premier.

Paddy Power GAA ambassador Diarmuid O'Sullivan.
Paddy Power GAA ambassador Diarmuid O'Sullivan.

“The two things Cork need going forward are Bill Cooper and Alan Cadogan. Not only did Cooper’s absence leave Cork defence short, but it also compromised Darragh Fitzgibbon.

“This is a massive week now. But, is it beyond them? The funny thing is, it’s not and they could go to the Gaelic Grounds and get a victory. If we can even get a point that would be great.”

Last weekend, the Blue and Gold half-backs cleaned up, while Cork struggled in the air and to protect their full-back unit.

“The entire game was a tale of two half-back lines really. Tipperary’s was totally dominant and the three Mahers hit four points from play between them.

“The Cork half-backs, to call a spade a spade, were utterly ran ragged! Bubbles was named at corner-forward but operated at centre-forward and did untold damage there. You have to set your platform from your half-back line and Cork didn’t do it. It is one of the key areas where the game was won and lost.”

The Rebel rearguard couldn't cope with Tipp's movement.

"The Eamon O'Shea rotation system for Tipperary was well flagged for Cork heading into this game, including by me. Cork just couldn't handle it!

"That being said I thought Cork's full-back line performed admirably, especially Eoin Cadogan and Niall O'Leary. Tipp's movement had Cork in all sorts of trouble, take the second goal; Bubbles stood for the best part of 10 seconds on his own on the Cork 13-yard line with no Cork defender around him, no one knew he was there except Anthony Nash.

"It's unforgivable at inter-county level to leave Bubbles alone around the square for that long though. He just drifted in there, he was someone's man and someone in the Cork set-up will have to put their hands up and say 'I just didn't track him'."

That was an issue during the league, with Tony Kelly doing serious damage for Clare drifting away from Tim O'Mahony at centre-back.

"I think it was quite evident that it happened again. It also highlighted the importance of Bill Cooper, who was injured in the warm-up, to the Cork team. Cooper identifies where the problem is and plugs the gap. I'm not sure what Mark Ellis' story is in relation to the squad, but Mark was always good at recognising that issue as well. Bill Cooper wasn't there to bail them out."

Up front, Cork were utterly reliant on Patrick Horgan.

“Seamus Harnedy got 1-2, but to be honest, I thought he went missing for a lot of the game. I’d actually rate Shane Kingston higher than him.

"Kingston finished with three points and was fouled on numerous occasion. He also got no reward from the officials as more fouls on him went unpunished, but at least he carried a threat. Harnedy got a point in the first minute, a goal with five minutes to go and a point somewhere in between - where was he for the rest of it?

“The rest of the forwards were ineffective and that’s very worrying. Tipperary also stifled Cork’s puck-outs and that was due to the unselfish work of their forwards. Conor Lehane also need to stand up next Sunday.”

John Meyler in the tunnel. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
John Meyler in the tunnel. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

For all that, O’Sullivan isn’t sure Meyler’s public criticism of the Cork attack was the right move.

“It was an interesting take on it, but it is probably something that was better kept inside the dressing room to have it out.

“Was it the right thing to do in the public domain? Maybe he has his reasons.”

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