'We need a better work-rate against Tyrone'

'We need a better work-rate against Tyrone'
Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

AS a player, what you saw with Ciarán O'Sullivan is what you got, totally committed and as honest as the day is long.

Now, as a selector with coach Ronan McCarthy, those same traits are obvious in discussing the do-or-die qualifier against Tyrone in Portlaoise on Saturday at 5pm.

It has to begin with the Munster final display against Kerry, though, and while everyone wants to move on, the dismal performance still requires distilling for the last time.

Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

And the Beara man didn't hesitate in outlining what's required to ensure there's no repeat.

“I'll be straight about this because that's what I am though it gets me into trouble at times. The fact of the matter is that we have to work harder around the middle and when I say the middle I mean half-backs, half-forwards and midfield.

“We need to start winning possession. We need to start picking up the breaking ball, contesting those 50-50 balls with a huge desire and being equally determined for those 40-60 balls, too.

“We have to be more aggressive, throwing ourselves at that ball to win possession. It's bodies on the line and you have to be at this stage because it's all or nothing now.

“And a lot of this is standard stuff and we should be doing it anyway. If we're not catching the ball clean, we should be bursting to win the breaks.

“We also need more movement inside in the full-forward line. It's all about work rate. The lads have the work done. It's just a matter of performing on the day,” he said.

A systems' failure in the middle eight, O'Sullivan reckons, was the main contributory factor to the defence coming under sustained pressure throughout though defenders losing the ball in contact didn't help either.

“I think what caught us was the high number of turnovers we conceded, when getting caught with the ball coming out from the back.

“We allowed it to happen, losing the ball in contact first of all in and around the midfield area which allowed the momentum swing Kerry's direction.

“This meant we were defending going backwards rather than defending facing out. We gave away a lot of possession in the middle area and I thought that's what caught us hugely,” O'Sullivan added.

Tyrone have an advantage in playing twice as many games as Cork, including difficult tests against Cavan last weekend in sweltering conditions and before that against Meath in Navan.

Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

However, O'Sullivan is relishing the challenge, particularly with the reward of a Super 8 place so tantalisingly close.

“To my mind, every draw at this stage is a tough draw and Tyrone are just that, but we're looking forward to it. These are the sort of games you want to be playing in even if it's a tough, tough task and I believe it will show us where we're at.

“Tyrone are a good side, who will break out fast from defence. They're dangerous and we've seen it time and time again.

“To reach the Super 8s would be fantastic and it's amazing how one game can make a huge difference.

“Tyrone probably have an advantage in having more games played, but we're going up there to take them on.” 

Players' stamina and fitness levels will come under close scrutiny in the Mediterranean weather though O'Sullivan has no issues with that aspect.

“Everything is being monitored and nobody has overdone it in training. We've a great back room team who keep a close watch to make sure the players are doing what they should be doing and not doing what they shouldn't be doing.”

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