FORGET that I’m from Cork as I write these next few lines. I’m going to wear a neutral hat as I analyse Kilkenny’s performance last Sunday. It beggar’s belief how they went about this All- Ireland final.
If I was from Kilkenny I’d be absolutely fuming at how such talented players are being stifled by their current management. This bunch of players won numerous minor titles.
Their skilful, stylish, attacking, goalscoring approach is what won those titles for them. When they defeated Cork in the senior final of 2016 they had an attacking style.
Yet they now have a forward line a pale shadow of what they once promised. I still can’t get my head around Katie Power at stages being the only Kilkenny forward inside the 60-metre line.
At times Cork defenders were looking at each other as if to say, ‘Which one of us will take this ball?’. There must surely be unrest in Kilkenny after Sunday’s tactic.
I said last week that if Kilkenny went defensive against Cork that Cork would win the game, but if Kilkenny played 15 on 15 then I’d be slightly worried.
We have no idea had Kilkenny gone on the attack if they would have beaten Cork, as if they had opened up Cork too would have had far more room to display their flair. It doesn’t matter. Cork are All Ireland champions.
Why has Ann Downey and her management gone down this negative route? They must greatly respect Cork’s pace and running game while at the same time have no faith in their own back eight outfield players.
In camogie you will never win a game with so many players behind the ball. I’ve no issue with a sweeper but holding 14 players between your own end-line and 65-metre mark, rarely going inside the oppositions 45?
This isn’t football, you will never consistently defend, recycle and achieve on the break.
I don’t think there has ever been as much reaction to a referee’s performance as there was last Sunday. There was plenty of feedback on social and print media about Eamonn Cassidy having an awful game, while some stated that he refereed within the rules of the game. He didn’t.
Forget the odd controversial decision. Those happen in every game and that’s not the focal point here. The point is the impact he had on preventing a free-flowing game.
He failed to allow the advantage rule. That rule is the most important one in the rule book in my opinion.
Honouring that is what allows our game to flow. And too many referees don’t do it.
On three occasions within the first five minutes he blew immediately when a foul was committed. In two of those Cork won the free but had broken away with the ball.
They still had possession and he never gave time to see how it played out. In the third Orla Cotter had the ball all alone and he called play back.
I could go on. That trend continued for the entire game. Cassidy played a big part in this game failing to live up to expectations.
I’m glad the stop-start nature of the game provoked a reaction which may also provoke a change in certain rules that will stop the finicky discretion of referees. Rules such as allowing a ‘shoulder’.
But unfortunately, as it stands playing rules can only be tabled every three years and motions were submitted for change in Congress 2018.
A motion to change that rule is the first thing that needs to happen. Do we really have to wait until 2021? Our attendances in Croke Park may not fall much as kids still love the day out, but they certainly won’t increase, and television viewership will fall considerably.
Our current players need to step up here and not leave such critical decisions to administrators of the game who don’t typically take an interest in areas like this. They aren’t concerned about the growth of our game. Most attendees at Congress are there with their own club in mind. The bigger picture doesn’t concern them.
Two Brian Dillon’s delegates, who are current players, made the effort to attend Congress this year. They voted for a ‘shoulder’ to be allowed.
They were the small minority in the room and almost made to feel uncomfortable that they would suggest such an act. Workshops were held nationally during 2017 in advance of Congress asking members what they wanted to change.
I attended one of those workshops in Mallow and was stunned that, from a list of 1-10, not one representative referred to the playing rules or the standard of refereeing as a need for change.
The above aside, I was thrilled for the Intermediate side, they had gone through so much heartache. Congratulations to them and their management team and to our gallant senior players and management. What a great weekend it was.
Our County Board must also take much credit for Cork’s success. They have presided over an incredibly successful year in 2018.
Reaching two U16 All-Ireland finals, a minor, intermediate and senior title. They’ve presided over four senior titles in five years.
People often criticise and don’t give credit where its due. Yet the work that this small group put in, people like Mary McSweeney, Marian McCarthy and Sheila Golden, amongst others, should be widely acknowledged and applauded.