The Tony Considine column: Cork learned the hard way, never give a sucker a chance

The Tony Considine column: Cork learned the hard way, never give a sucker a chance
John McGrath came up trumps in the second half for Tipp. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

BEING around Thurles town early yesterday, I found the place very subdued — very little atmosphere, especially from the Tipperary people, who seemed to be very down since their last outing against Limerick.

And talking to a lot of the locals, to my surprise, I learned that many weren’t even going to the match! A lot of these people were in Limerick the previous Sunday and said they were not impressed by the attitude of most of the players and their lack of fight against Limerick. They couldn’t see this being any different against Cork even with all the changes that have been made.

Cork supporters outnumbered Tipperary supporters and I thought about this as the game started and how Tipperary played exactly as they did against Limerick, with no intensity or aggression in their play. Cork were dominating all over the field, and getting some great team scores, particularly from Seamus Harnedy, Shane Kingston and Patrick Horgan in their full-forward line.

The Tipperary full-back line were being taken to the cleaners. I’d say they were getting dizzy spells following these three around.

Also Daniel Kearney was getting some great scores. I definitely think this is where Cork could have really punished Tipperary. I believe they would have scored more goals if they played more direct ball in.

Cork were holding up the ball too much out the field, their half-back line were especially guilty of this. They were over-elaborating at times, hand passing the ball around when they knew the Tipp backs were in big trouble. It was time for direct ball in especially as Tipp were vulnerable and confidence low from last week.

Even though Cork were playing very well and were up nine points at half time, I believe they could have been more, which would have finished off Tipperary. As the old saying goes, “never give a sucker a chance”. When a team is on the rack, go for the jugular. That’s where the ruthless streak comes in and if you want to be a top team you must have that.

Well the Tipp “sucker” came back to bite in the second half and they made a few positional switches putting Brendan Maher to wing-back, Ronan Maher to midfield and Pádraic Maher to centre-back, as well as introducing Bubbles O’Dwyer. These moves improved Tipperary massively. They added a lot more aggression to their play.

Brendan Maher of Tipperary in action against Daniel Kearney. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Brendan Maher of Tipperary in action against Daniel Kearney. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

In fact you could say they were a different team in the second half. And the Tipperary character began to show.

They started attacking from all angles, and Cork started to make basic errors and mistakes, ones that could have been avoided. I thought Cork would have learned from last year’s All-Ireland semi-final against Waterford, especially their backs.

When you are up a big score in any game the requirement for any defender is to clear his line at all times and get that ball to the other end of the field. If you don’t, you will be punished by good forwards, if they get half a chance. With fellas like Noel McGrath, John McGrath and Jason Forde around, they will put away any little chance at all that they get.

And boy did the Cork defence give them some chances!

Christopher Joyce is under pressure from Patrick Maher. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Christopher Joyce is under pressure from Patrick Maher. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

I know Christopher Joyce and Mark Ellis had reasonably good games, but if they look back at some of the errors they made in this game, they handed easy scores to Tipperary. This was frustrating to say the least, for the Cork management and supporters.

Another man to have an outstanding game, and who is hurling very well is Seán O’Donoghue, but when the youngster looks back on this game, the one thing that will stick out in his mind is the fumble for Tipp’s equalising point. He should have made sure of the ball and he was very lucky that it was only an equalising point, and not the winning goal that Jake Morris could have got.

Still, Seán will learn big time from this game. As with his defensive colleagues, cut out the mistakes and you have a great chance of winning most games.

Cork had a great chance to finish off this Tipperary team, but now I think they have given them a lifeline. We must admire Tipp here for the spirit and character they showed in the second half, when all seemed lost. They dug deep and it’s now in their own hands if they want to come out of this ‘group of death’.

John Meyler must be happy he has no loss yet, but he knows it should be two wins. I’d say he gave Anthony Nash a few extra claps on the back coming off after the game as he made a few brilliant saves.

This is a very exciting Munster Championship and anything could happen yet. 

A great win for Clare against a much depleted Waterford team. It puts Clare back in the race again, as they badly needed this win, and 2-27 is good scoring. They have next week off but a huge game for them against Tipperary then.

A dour affair in Salthill, but there’s a big game too next week for Wexford playing Galway at home.

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