The Rock: Rebels still need to find a meaner defensive system

The Rock: Rebels still need to find a meaner defensive system
Gearoid Hegarty of Limerick is stopped by Tim O'Mahony. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

DIARMUID O'Sullivan expects Tipperary to come out with all guns blazing against Cork at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday, 2pm.

The Rebels have picked up some momentum after victories over Clare and Limerick which leaves them on the brink of a league quarter-final berth, while Tipp have only one win in their last nine league and championship outings.

"Tipp fans will want to see a performance," said O'Sullivan, a Paddy Power GAA ambassador. "They'll want them to go to Cork, give a really strong showing and really put it up to the home side. He'll be coming to Cork with of attitude of 'yes, we're one in nine, but we're Tipperary and we've never feared going to Cork'."

The four-time All-Star full-back, who was a senior selector in 2016 and '17, still feels the Cork rearguard needs to tighten up.

"People are saying Tim O'Mahony is a must at centre-back for Cork, but I never remember Ronan Curran or Brian Corcoran coughing up five, six, seven points a game. It's not a slight on Tim, it's the way Cork's system is playing.

"If you are going to allow centre-forwards to drift around like Tony Kelly and Shane Dowling did, someone is going to have to take responsibility for Tim O'Mahony's man in the middle of the field. You need to keep the door slammed at the back to stop people running down the middle."

Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE
Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

O'Sullivan is intrigued by Doug Howlett's appointment as high-performance lead.

"Gary Keegan left the role and is one of the most sought-after guys in the country in relation to sports performance. My question would be why Cork failed to secure the services of Gary Keegan again?

"As for Doug Howlett, he's going to bring his experience to the table. He's still the record leading try scorer for the All-Blacks.

Cork backroom staff member Doug Howlett. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan
Cork backroom staff member Doug Howlett. Picture: INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

What he did for Munster when he came to this country is nothing short of phenomenal and he's held in very high esteem throughout the world. So it would be interesting to see his role with Cork be more defined and more attached as the summer rolls on."

The Rock's father, Jerry O'Sullivan, has announced he is running for GAA President.

"The man's dedication to GAA throughout his entire life, since he was 24 and he took over the chairmanship of the Cloyne club when it was in dire trouble and while he was still playing. He's put his hat in the ring now and as I said to him "nothing ventured, nothing gained". 

"He's always said, "if you don't take a chance at something, you'll never know." He's served his time right through from our own club to Cork and the Munster Council. It's not like he'd be coming into the presidency raw or cold. He deserves the chance to run for it and we're delighted he has."

Jerry O'Sullivan. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Jerry O'Sullivan. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

He believes Jerry is a man that embraces change.

"I don't like bringing this up, but he was also involved in some of the debacles in the Cork players disputes down through the years and I believe he's come through them brilliantly. He dealt with them in a very capable manner. 

"He's overseen change in the Munster Council as chairman and he's dealt with some of the harder issues in terms of player welfare in Cork, so the man is well versed in what he needs to do. All we can do is support him in his venture and do that as much we can. It's his dream to do it. 

"He went from the chairman of Cloyne to Imokilly on to Cork and then onto the Munster Council. He sat on all the smaller positions and he's worked his way through the ladder."

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