The Tony Considine column: Cork hurlers can't afford to drop their guard now

The Tony Considine column: Cork hurlers can't afford to drop their guard now
Cork goalkeeper Anthony Nash. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

WELL, we finally know the three teams coming out of Munster now.

I would say a lot of people are surprised and I’d say most of them would have gotten it wrong.

The general consensus was that Tipperary and Waterford would be two of the three to qualify.

And it has taken a lot of people by surprise that the All-Ireland finalists of last year, Waterford, and the All-Ireland semi-finalists, Tipperary, are gone... but they did not deserve to go through on their performances.

What a big let down for both counties.

Limerick's Graeme Mulcahy and Tom Morrissey with Déise legend Michael Walsh. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Limerick's Graeme Mulcahy and Tom Morrissey with Déise legend Michael Walsh. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

But fair play to Clare and Limerick and Cork of course, who are their and deserving so.

Cork going back to Thurles on Sunday to take on a team that has nothing to play for.

A tricky game taking on a team who have nothing to play for, only pride.

But Cork have to do what Cork have to do.

But they are definitely going to play far more important games than this one.

What do John Meyler and his management team decide on Sunday, especially with their team selection? I believe, without disturbing their team too much, they need to find out about some of their players on the panel.

I know there is a Munster Final place at stake here, but personally, I would be trying some of these guys in this game, especially where Cork seem to have problems.

For instance, their defence. I would definitely be starting Eoin Cadogan at full-back in this game if he is fully fit. I would also start Tim O’Mahony at centre-back.

I would like to see Conor O’Sullivan too, a very good corner-back of a few years ago. I think you would find out a few things about these guys if they are up to the pace of championship hurling.

There is only one way to find out, and that is to throw them into a game like this one.

Of course, you will know then later on if you have to call on them, that they have some championship match under their belt. I would also like to see Damien Cahalane in the half-back line as I think he could be very forceful out there, and maybe a move of Mark Ellis to midfield - just a new partner for Darragh Fitzgibbon, as his athleticism would be a plus if he was ever needed there.

Up front, I believe Cork need a big target man. Michael Cahalane could give them that option at full-forward - add a bit of power and strength up there, especially in the air.

I also think a guy like Jamie Coughlan would add some strength to the forward line as well, as he was a very promising player a few years ago - well able to take his score - would be a lot more mature now - the kind of a player that could turn a game for you. I know this other player is very young, but a run out for Jack O’Connor at some stage, would be good for Cork, and for Jack too.

Cork manager John Meyler and selector Kieran Murphy. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Cork manager John Meyler and selector Kieran Murphy. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

I’ve mentioned a lot of players here, and I know a lot of them probably won’t be playing in this game, but I think John Meyler needs to, if not start these players, at least to get some game time into them, and where better than to get a run out in Thurles?

I know first and foremost, John has to think about winning the game, but he has also to think about later on in the year when he will have far more important games, and to find out how strong his panel is for the battles ahead, because there are some serious tests coming down the line, and it might be too late to be trying them then.

He must know by now that he had some very shaky moments especially in that defence and especially against Tipperary and Limerick, I believe some of the people I have mentioned would strengthen that.

However, they know who is going well in training. After all, they see them most nights, but sometimes, as we have all done in the past, we can remain too loyal to players that are not performing.

That can be a big mistake, and one you would very much regret. As I always say, if they are not performing, do them a favour and take them off.

And it’s good overall for everyone - but that did not happen against a 14-man Limerick, and Cork nearly paid the price.

I believe Cork will win this game on Sunday, and I expect them to be in the Munster decider and to know a lot more about their panel. Should be a cracker in Ennis with Clare and Limerick playing for a place in the Munster final.

Limerick on a roll, but they will find this one hard.

Clare very hard to beat in Ennis - could be another Clare-Cork Munster final. I’m sure Cork wouldn’t mind that!

At least they wouldn’t have to travel to Limerick, which is what will happen if Limerick win in Ennis on Sunday.

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