Plenty of positives for Cork hurlers across the opening two league games

Rebels did enough to deserve a victory against their greatest rivals in Thurles
Plenty of positives for Cork hurlers across the opening two league games

Tipperary's Niall O'Meara with Robert Downey of Cork at Semple Stadium. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

LAST week's win was a great start to the Allianz Hurling League for Cork and scoring five goals is always welcome in any game.

But afterwards, Cork selector, Diarmuid 'The Rock' O'Sullivan was very fast to point out that it was the first game and a first win, nothing more.

He said so as he was well aware of the challenge that the Rebels were going to face when heading to Thurles to take on a Tipp side determined to make up for their poor showing by their standards last season.

Cork's win represented a first opening-round one for Cork since 2018 and O’Sullivan, while happy, was already looking ahead to the challenge of Tipperary.
“It’s one win,” he said, “it’s one win in the league and we’re not going to get carried away. We know that we have an awful lot of work to do and Tipperary are our next challenge. We keep going back to it, that’s the next focus.”

O'Sullivan has been around the game long enough to know that Tipp were going to be a far tougher challenge than the Déise and while others might have been getting ahead of themselves, neither he nor the rest of the Cork set-up were going to do so.

Tipp showed enough in their draw with Limerick that this was going to be another step up and that's exactly what it proved to be. In their opening encounter last week the home side played at an intensity and level that manager Liam Sheedy would have been happy with and it put them in good stead going into this tie.

UNLUCKY

Cork love travelling to Thurles and never fear doing so and could afford to travel in a confident mood for their second league tie of the season. And Cork can consider themselves very unlucky not to have won this one, as over the 70 minutes they were the better side.

Tipperary's Paddy Cadell closes down Eoin Cadogan of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Tipperary's Paddy Cadell closes down Eoin Cadogan of Cork. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Cork had a late change as Shane Kingston was out injured and on the bench they were also deprived of the experienced Seamus Harnedy, also injured.

This lead to a few positional changes, which may very well have happened anyway if Kingston started.

Luke Meade moved out to the half-forward line with Darragh Fitzgibbon starting at centre-forward. Jack O'Connor, coming in for Kingston lined out in the corner, a position he is well used to playing. From half-forward Meade did what he always does, cover every blade of grass on the pitch and worked tirelessly from start to finish.

Even with the late change you certainly couldn't fault the way Cork started, with a point from Alan Cadogan after just 20 seconds and a superb move, involving Fitzgibbon and Cadogan saw O'Connor hit the side netting when he possibly should have done better in the first two minutes.

But again like last week Cork were aggressive in their tackling and disrupting the Tipp defence as they tried to work the ball out.

At half-time Cork were a point down but deserved to be level at the very least. One aspect of that half they will be happy with is the number of scores Tipp got from play, of the 12 points on the board by then only six were from play.

The other side of that coin was the fact they gave away some sloppy frees, but there would be a strong argument that not too many of them would have been given in a championship game!

Cork's goal was the move of the half, with a simply sublime cross-field pass from Mark Coleman to Tim O'Mahony, who then played in Horgan. O'Mahony didn't stop his run and was hand to slot home from Hoggie's ball across the goal.

O'Mahony showed that he is more than he is going to be a huge player for Cork this year and slotted into midfield in this one and was as good as he was at half-back last week.

He is also more than capable of lining out at centre-forward and the quandary that Cork could have is where they end up playing him, but it's a nice one to have.

Mark Coleman had another outstanding evening at centre-back and could very well be the answer to Cork's issues there in recent years. 

Behind him, the much-criticised Damien Cahalane had another solid performance at full-back and between them and the rest of the defence Tipp never looked like raising the green flag.

The closest they came to doing so was when a pass back to Patrick Collins from Niall O'Leary almost went over his head!

The Rebels also got the chance to give a few more of the younger players game time, with Eoin Cadogan also making a welcome return.

Overall it was another solid performance from the Rebels and they could travel home happy with their showing.

It wasn't perfect and they were guilty of giving the ball away too easily at times, especially in the second half and this will give them something to work on in the weeks ahead before their next outing against Westmeath.

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