Late drama might yet inspire Cork if they are more dynamic with their team selection

Late drama might yet inspire Cork if they are more dynamic with their team selection

UNITED WE STAND: Paul Kerrigan speaks to his team after the win over Tipp. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

IF NOTHING else the way Cork defeated Tipp last Saturday at least gave them one magic moment to savour from this summer.

When Conor Sweeney nabbed a late goal at Páirc Uí Rinn it looked like they would pay the price for their woeful first-half efforts and crash out to the Premier for the second year in a row. Instead the Rebels swept downfield with James Loughrey and Mark Collins at the heart of the move which Luke Connolly deftly guided to the net.

Connolly rose his arms aloft in joy and the goal ignited the hardcore Cork football supporters in the crowd. They had endured a grim opening 35 minutes with virtually nothing to shout about so deserved to loudly celebrate the match-winning score.

The real drama over the weekend was Wexford's thrilling victory over Kilkenny, spearheaded by the inspirational Lee Chin, in a rollicking contest where even watching from the couch the atmosphere was electric.

Wexford's Lee Chin with Kilkenny's Walter Walsh. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry
Wexford's Lee Chin with Kilkenny's Walter Walsh. Picture: INPHO/Oisin Keniry

For the Cork footballers, those type of occasions are as rare as Scottish wins over England (damn you Harry Kane!), but at least they got a hint of glamour and glory in the finale at Páirc Uí Rinn. 

In the modern era Cork have no divine right to expect to beat Tipperary but a defeat, which looked likely for long spells and would have transpired if Michael Quinlivan hadn't been stretchered off, would have been a hammer blow. There's simply no way these players could have dusted themselves off for a trip through the qualifiers given the stick they'd have taken after a loss.

Granted, they may still find the going tough against Kerry next month, but given they are huge underdogs, they don't have a whole lot to lose. It would be crazy to suggest Cork can actually get the better of the Kingdom, but surely they've it in them to tear into the game and die with their boots on.

That's really all most Leesiders are looking for. They want displays to heart and character, with a bit of attractive attack-minded play for good measure. They certainly don't want to see a sweeper deployed as a negative standoff-ish tactic on home turf with a powerful wind to the Rebels' backs.

Cork football is underachieving yet the loss of marquee players like Alan Cadogan and Damien Cahalane to football and Ciarán Sheehan to Aussie Rules, as well as doubts about the managerial set-up means they're simply not talented or well organised enough to challenge for an All-Ireland. 

We can safely say we're none the wiser about Cork's best 15 after last weekend, but surely there will be a few changes in the wake of that first half against Tipp. The likes of Brian O'Driscoll, Colm O'Driscoll, Peter Kelleher and Colm O'Neill were taken off and will probably be on the bench for the Munster final.

Kelleher set up an early goal chance with his aerial prowess at the edge of the square. He's young and powerful and exactly the type of fresh face Cork need to be motoring well, but the style of play which opened up Tipp in the second half was through hard running. O'Neill has only managed one point from play in the last four games he started and actually did more damage as an impact sub against Longford and Donegal last summer.

Maybe going with Donncha O'Connor and holding O'Neill back for the second half would be more profitable for all?

Mark Collins, with his nous and movement, and Sean Powter, through his drive and blistering pace, were game-changers and both should be in against the Green and Gold. Indeed Collins should be a banker to start every time given his intelligent distribution.

There will be more options available for July 2, as Alan O'Connor returns from suspension and Eoin Cadogan and Aidan Walsh should be fit.

Like Lee Chin, Walsh is a serious athlete - lean, tall and fast - and Cork need to find some way to get the best out of him. Alan O'Connor and Cadogan are dogs of war and they'll be critical against Kerry's aggression.

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