The Rock: I'm a big fan of Cahalane because of his desire to improve all the time

The Rock: I'm a big fan of Cahalane because of his desire to improve all the time
Damien Cahalane soloing out of defence clear of Clare's Shane O'Donnell. Picture: Denis Minihane.

THE Cork hurlers must focus on their own performance and pay no heed to Tipperary’s issues ahead of Sunday’s Munster clash in Semple Stadium, 2pm.

That’s the advice of Rebel legend Diarmuid O’Sullivan, who expects a furious response from Michael Ryan’s charges, who were beaten by Limerick last weekend while Cork defeated Clare.

“Cork aren’t in a position to worry about anyone else,” said O’Sullivan, who was a selector in 2016 and ’17. “They may have won a Munster title and got to an All-Ireland semi-final last year, but we’re after pretty poor innings in recent times.

“So, until Cork gets its own house in order, I don’t think it would be fair for us to go into anyone’s front room and start rattling cages.” 

Diarmuid O'Sullivan with the Cork team last summer. Picture: INPHO/Cathal Noonan
Diarmuid O'Sullivan with the Cork team last summer. Picture: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

O’Sullivan, who is covering this summer’s action as a Paddy Power News columnist, does feel his county can hurl with a bit more freedom this weekend now they’ve a win on the board. They will however be without attackers Robbie O’Flynn – who’ll miss a month after suffering concussion against the Banner – and Alan Cadogan, who had knee surgery this week and could be gone for the season.

“It’s very simple, if you want to come and have a shootout with Cork, you better have the guns. Cork have forwards who can hurt you. 

"If you give them the space, room and time, they have the firepower, so you better make sure you have the armoury to take that on. They’ll revel in the opportunity to go to Thurles on Sunday, knowing a win up there could put them in a comfortable position.” 

The three-time senior All-Ireland winner is hoping the Rebels’ pace will cause Tipp concern in Thurles.

“Speed is king and Cork’s pace will not only worry Tipperary, although it will trouble most teams in the Championship. Sean O'Donoghue is lightning quick, Damien Cahalane is no slouch, Mark Coleman can move and then further up the field you add in Darragh Fitzgibbon, Robbie O’Flynn, Conor Lehane and Seamus Harnedy has a good burst.

“Then you have Shane Kingston coming off the bench as well for 20/25 minute. Any team with that kind of pace has a real advantage.” 

Shane Kingston at full tilt. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Shane Kingston at full tilt. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

O’Sullivan, a four-time All-Star at full-back, was impressed with Cork’s last line of defence against Clare.

“Damien Cahalane was in my top three for Man of the Match for Cork last week. He was top of the list in terms of the defence. If I was in charge he’d be my number three, I won’t lie I’m a big fan of Damien’s because of his sheer dedication to improve constantly.” 

Rookie Seán O’Donoghue from Inniscarra also looked the part.

“He would have been involved with us last year only he opted for the U21 football panel, which was a natural decision given he was the captain of that team. Fair play to John Meyler for throwing him and Robbie O’Flynn in for their debuts, that’s two more young lads blooded to this scene. That can only be a positive, but they have to go again.”

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