IF Cork don't come up with a defensive structure to curb freewheeling forward lines like Tipperary's, they're going to fall short this summer.
That's the view of four-time All-Star full-back Diarmuid O'Sullivan, who worked with the core of the current team when he was a selector under Kieran Kingston in 2015-'16. The Rock, writing in his column for bookmakers Paddy Power, wasn't impressed with the concession of 1-29 in the league last weekend, with Jason Forde hitting 1-13 of that and Michael Breen 0-6 from play.
"The Cork mentality has always been that we don’t play defensive systems, we go out to win the game. Cork’s best form of defence has always been attack, but maybe there was a bit of naivety there on Sunday," wrote O'Sullivan about a loss that cost Cork a spot in the league quarter-finals.
Centre-back has been a problem position for the Rebels since the era when Ronan Curran dominated in front of the Cloyne club man. Tim O'Mahony has worn the number six throughout this league campaign, as he did last spring before an injury ruled him out of the early phase of the championship.
"I know people thought I was harsh on Tim O’Mahony a couple of weeks ago. Don’t get me wrong, Tim O’Mahony is a really, really good hurler and has all the attributes to be a very good centre-back. Unfortunately, at this moment in time, he's a failure of the system that Cork are playing.
"He’s not a failure as hurler (I’ve such good time for his hurling), but too many times, he was found out of the middle hurling ball outside of the area he should be protecting. That happening again on Sunday.
"That’s where the system is breaking down and it’s not knock on O’Mahony’s hurling ability."
O'Mahony is a rookie at this level but some of the veterans haven't clicked yet this year, with captain Seamus Harnedy picking up a needless red card which will rule him out of this weekend's 'relegation play-off' against Kilkenny.
"The Cork management now need to define a system that will suit this group because a lot of guys are playing as individuals. It has to be said, some of the more senior guys in that group have been really poor throughout the National League."
O'Sullivan believes John Meyler and his selectors Fraggie Murphy and Donal O'Mahony must be ruthless with anyone consistently failing to perform.
"Real players know when things have to be brought up a level and when the standard isn’t right They also know what’s acceptable and what’s required to be an inter-county hurler.
"As a management team, if you have to go in and tell a player over and over again what’s required, well, then it’s time to cut him loose. He’s not good enough or hasn’t the mental capacity to be an inter-county hurler."