The Tony Considine column: Horgan still needs a bit more help in the Cork attack

The Tony Considine column: Horgan still needs a bit more help in the Cork attack
Conor Lehane battles Sean Finn of Limerick. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

THE Fitzgibbon Cup was an impressive win for UCC and what a great competition it is for producing players.

I went to Fitzgibbon Cup games in the 1990s, as a mentor with Clare, to see if we could find players suitable for the inter-county team. There were a lot of promising players in the various colleges at that time.

I remember being at a game when UL were playing and seeing their full-back and centre-back — two Claremen, namely the great Brian Lohan and Seanie McMahon. I came away from that game thinking that we could build a good Clare team around these two men.

And they proved me right: both were outstanding players, with the perfect attitude to be top-class. I think the Fitzgibbon Cup made these players and the county of Clare really benefited from it.

They became legends of the game.

I was wondering if I would see any future legends at the Fitzgibbon Cup final (UCC beat Mary Immaculate College, 2-21 to 0-13). I didn’t see any players of the calibre of Lohan and McMahon, but it was pleasing to see some promising talent from Tipperary and Limerick, but most of all from Cork — obviously, UCC were mostly Corkmen, some of them already on the Cork County team. What I saw bodes well.

Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton
Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

Cork have a lot of hurlers coming through, and with two Cork teams in the Harty Cup the previous weekend, the talent is there at all ages.

This is where good management and good coaching play their part. I was very impressed by UCC’s direct hurling.

Tom Kingston managed them well, but I also think Ger Cunningham’s coaching was crucial. Surely, there is a place for Ger as a coach with some inter-county team in Cork. He has vast experience now, and a lot to offer.

To this week’s league games: Limerick are the only team from Division 1 in the quarter-final already. The other places are up for grabs, with Cork taking on the old enemy, Tipperary.

I’m sure Cork have targeted wins against all the Munster teams they are playing.

Last Sunday, they had a good win against Limerick, but, again, they made very hard work of it. Allowing the opposition to come at them is a weakness of this Cork team.

They should have won pulling up — that is down to a lack of ‘killer instinct’ and a lack of a ruthless streak.

This Cork team needs to develop this and they must do so soon, especially in the centre of their defence. It’s fine for a defender to hurl a lot of ball, and maybe even score, but the main priority is always to stop the opposing forwards from scoring.

That means tight marking and spoiling: just get it out of the danger area and nothing too fancy.

For Tim O’Mahony and Co this is the job of a defender: protect your goal at all cost.

This is something management will really have to work at.

Cork forwards will nearly always score enough to win games, but other forwards will have to help Patrick Horgan with that task.

Aidan Walsh is going well, improving with each game — a huge target man for Cork now. His work-rate is very good and he can play at full-forward or half-forward.

Conor Lehane needs to get busy, as does Seamus Harnedy. 

Clare's Conor Cleary and Seamus Harnedy of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane
Clare's Conor Cleary and Seamus Harnedy of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Tipp will not be easy on Sunday. They are under pressure, but I still believe they are short a few players, and it will take time, even with Eamon O’Shea back helping Liam Sheedy.

But I think it’s players they need, not coaches.

Cork should win this one at home, but it will be interesting to see how their defence will do.

Limerick and Clare should bring a big crowd to Ennis, as Clare were the only team to beat Limerick in the Championship last year, and I’m sure they will want to continue that, especially in Cusack Park. Clare were nearly caught last Sunday against Wexford and maybe should have been.

Again, like Cork, Clare’s defence gave away scores too easily, and a lot of it can be down to giving away silly frees, which is unforgivable. That lack of concentration can prove very costly. Clare need to win this one and I believe they will.

There should be a great atmosphere at Wexford and Kilkenny game.

Wexford’s tactics are questionable and I think they would be better off getting rid of the ‘sweeper system’ and go direct with their hurling, because they have the players to play that type of game, and they should be allowed the freedom to do it.

Wexford's Lee Chin and Cathal Malone of Clare. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Wexford's Lee Chin and Cathal Malone of Clare. Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

If they do that in this game, on Sunday, I think they have a great chance of winning it. If they play any other way against Kilkenny, they will suffer. I’d say there will be a bit more spark in the games this weekend, and there would need to be.

Pat Spillane said that hurling was lacking intensity. I’d still rather watch a hurling challenge game than a football championship game, despite all the hand-passing.

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