The Tony Considine column: Judging on their poor effort last weekend the Cork hurlers need a bit of tough love

The Tony Considine column: Judging on their poor effort last weekend the Cork hurlers need a bit of tough love
Bill Cooper battles John O'Dwyer and Noel McGrath. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

THE knockout stages of the league are on this weekend, but before I go into it, I must say, I think it hasn’t been taken seriously by most managers, and you could say at this stage that it has been meaningless.

The blame here lies with the top brass of the GAA, especially when they got rid of promotion and relegation. Counties knew there was nothing to fight for and therefore they were safe.

The GAA have been very consistent at making these kinds of mistakes and just look at what they have done this weekend. Cork have to play Kilkenny in Nowlan Park in a 'relegation' match, when there is NO relegation. You couldn’t make it up. No need whatsoever to play this game - not to mention the expense for Cork having to travel to Kilkenny. Hopefully they will get the thinking right for next year.

These errors cannot be repeated, but I won't hold my breath.

Talking of Cork, what a poor performance against Tipperary. It looks like they had no interest in this league, but the attitude last Sunday was as poor as I’ve seen from a Cork team in a long time, lacking spirit and intensity all over the field.

Cork manager John Meyler. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Cork manager John Meyler. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

John Meyler and his management team will have to take some of the blame for that. I know some days you might have two or three players that won’t perform, and there is nothing a manager can do about that, but when you have most of your team not performing, to me, that comes back to management for allowing this to happen.

Management always have to have the right attitude and never allow players to get into a comfort zone - nothing great was ever achieved out of the comfort zone. John and his selectors need to let players know this in no uncertain terms, and never ever tolerate that kind of approach.

This is where you have got to be ruthless. Tough love wouldn’t go astray here!

Conor Lehane tackles Ronan Maher. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Conor Lehane tackles Ronan Maher. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

This is John’s third year around this team and its time to be showing his teeth - May 12 is fast approaching - that’s the day everything has to be right. A lot of work to be done and no guarantees for players.

If they are not performing in training or in matches, maybe a seat on the bench would do them no harm, that is one way to lay down the law.

It doesn’t just happen at this level, you must make it happen. Giving out the right signals is very important for everyone.

I know Tipperary were very impressive last Sunday, and they had their best team on the field, with players back from injury, but Cork made it so easy for them. I don’t know if that did Tipp any good either. Anyway, they are in the quarter-final this weekend against Dublin.

I can’t understand how Dublin, who finished top of Division 1B have to play away from home for this game, and the three teams who finished below them, Galway, Waterford and Laois, all got home venues for their quarter-finals - another boo-boo!

No reward for finishing top for them.

I’m sure Mattie Kenny won’t mind though, as this will be a very good test for his team - taking on Tipp in their own back yard.

I’m sure too that he is glad that it’s a Munster team. He will know more about his charges after Sunday, but I wonder, as the winner here must play Limerick in the semi-final and I think Liam Sheedy and Tipp would prefer to play anyone else but Limerick at this stage as they will be meeting this opposition in the Munster championship.

I wonder will Tipp go all out here, or will they pull back a bit? If they go all out they should win.

One team that will go all out at the weekend, and have done so from the outset, is Wexford.

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

They have to travel to play Galway. They are the one team showing the right attitude in this league.

They are a big, strong, athletic team, and this time of year suits them - they are very honest in their play. I believe if they go more direct in their hurling, and with the players they have, they would be a match for anyone.

I’m sure Galway will want to put down a marker here, as they too will be playing Wexford in the Championship. I know they are missing a few players, but they are still a hard team to beat in Salthill. Galway might just shade it.

Finally, Clare playing Waterford. This is a dress rehearsal for their Munster Championship. Clare are delighted to be going to Walsh Park and getting a run out there before that meeting.

Clare are a team that have been hot and cold in this league also, and like a lot of the teams are not going fully out for it, but I’s sure they will up their performance this weekend as they know they would like to put a bit of doubt into Waterford and lay down some kind of marker here.

They are a bit like Cork insofar as their defence needs to improve - maybe this is where they will start.

Waterford will be hard to beat here, and I’m glad to see they have gone away from their sweeper system.

I believe that system was holding them back big time. You don’t need to play like that when you have the calibre of player that Waterford have - some really good skillful players that are well able to look after their own patch.

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

Pádraig Fanning is starting the right way here, and I think this is the best way for Waterford.

I think they will win this one with home advantage, but the real contest will be on May 12.

Let’s hope the hurling picks up this weekend.

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