DOES it ever get any different for Cork?
They were hopeful of a display against Tipperary but nobody expected Cork to win by 11 points.
Nobody fancied them to beat Kerry but they didn’t envisage Cork losing by 17 points. Few thought Cork would beat Tyrone but many seemed to think that the Munster final embarrassment would at least inspire and provoke a performance.
Cork were out of their depth but there is something seriously wrong when a county like Cork loses two championship matches by an aggregate margin of 33 points. Cork were good against Tipperary but Tipperary were all over the place.
The club championships had deprived the management of their players and Tipp only had a handful of sessions to get ready for the championship.
The display that evening masked a lot of key issues because the gulf in class and hardened experience between Cork and the real elite teams was never more obvious on Saturday evening.
Cork need to get the basics better. They need to trust in a new playing system which is now urgently required.
A free-flowing style does not fully work in the modern game. Because Cork were over-run on Saturday evening.
Blown away. Wiped out.
Some players tried hard but too many didn’t. A lack of confidence is clearly still a huge issue amongst this group but confidence can only stem from performances and results.
And Cork just haven’t had enough of them during this season. Ronan McCarthy and his management will seek to make up that ground but it won’t be easy.
It’s dispiriting and disheartening for players to take those kinds of hidings but there are obvious scars there now from too many beatings and there needs to be a player clear-out now.
There are enough good footballers in the county but Cork need to try and develop a whole new mentality if they are to bridge a gap that is increasing with each passing season.
It was so easy for Tyrone, especially in the second half, that this just wasn’t good enough from Cork. The intensity and desire and edge required for this level was absent.
It’s not always easy to stop a team when they get a run on the opposition but Cork still didn’t show the requisite hunger and desire in such a dire situation.
They allowed a hiding to become a total rout. Tyrone got three goals but they could have had seven.
Conceding 3-18 against Kerry was one thing but to ship 3-20 against a side not deemed to have the same level of firepower as Kerry was worse.
It was like a challenge game at times because Tyrone did as they liked.
Numerous Tyrone scores were registered with minimal heat or pressure being applied on the kicker.
Tyrone physically and tactically bossed the match. Cork have some high quality inside forwards but they’re largely redundant with Cork’s running game.
And the kind of running game that Cork play is the type of stuff that Tyrone eat up for breakfast.
Based on how both teams set up, this match was always likely to be ran and dominated by Tyrone.
Tyrone are supremely comfortable with their defensive system.
Every player looks comfortable in their role whereas Cork are uneasy with that defensive, attritional warfare.
One of the key challenges for Cork was quickly adjusting to Tyrone’s defensive system, especially after not having played against a team set up like Tyrone, either in the league or championship all season.
Can a team just turn up and get that kind of a job done against a side which have mastered the art? A team needs to be multi-dimensional in their approach in terms of patiently learning how to break it down.
Cork just aren’t that stage in their development but they waved the white flag as soon as Tyrone got a run on them after half-time.
The key for Cork was to stay in the game for as long as possible and not allow Tyrone to get ahead, dig the trenches and hunker down.
Cork were only trailing by five points at half-time but the dye had already been cast. And everyone knew what was coming.
Cork were playing with a sweeper but Tyrone were cutting them open straight through the middle because their defenders were backing off, inviting Tyrone on, and not shutting down the space which mattered most, and which Tyrone were fully exploiting.
Cork weren’t playing with enough width to try and stretch Tyrone’s blanket defence but they weren’t playing with any pace or urgency either.
Cork were doing everything a team shouldn’t do against Tyrone – running into their brick wall and rebounding off it.
Tyrone forced five turnovers-in-possession in the opening 15 minutes.
Cork got some joy in the game when they injected some pace into their play but getting level in the 21st minute had as much to do with Tyrone sloppiness than Cork conviction.
Tyrone only nailed four for their first 11 shots. Mark White, a young player who has been one of the few shining lights this summer, made two fine saves in that period, but Tyrone stirred themselves and converted six points from six shots.
The game was over immediately after the break when Tyrone nailed their first three scoring chances. They also won Cork’s three kick-outs, the third of which ended with Conor McAliskey finishing the ball to the net.
With 30 minutes remaining, and Tyrone 10 points ahead, it was already looking like a long afternoon for Cork.
It was. The Tyrone scores kept coming.
So did the misery for Cork.
It’s going to be a long winter, with more soul searching than ever before for the Cork senior footballers. Because something is seriously wrong.
And every player who is serious about being a Cork senior footballer has a duty to try and fix it.