John Horgan: Cork hurling squad looks deeper this season 

Rebels were able to look to their bench to get scores to secure the result away to Tipp
John Horgan: Cork hurling squad looks deeper this season 

Cork have added to their options in attack outside of Patrick Horgan. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

ALL things considered, the draw in Thurles last Saturday night was probably the right outcome to what was at times an absorbing battle between one of hurling’s enduring rivalries.

Cork left the old ground a wee bit disappointed that they were unable to close out the contest, giving up the last two scores to allow Tipperary a share of the spoils for the second week running.

However, the Premier county shot a total of 17 wides over the 70 minutes, a dozen of them in the second half.

For Cork, the game was in stark contrast to the outing against Waterford. Scores were much more difficult to register, they scored 3-6 less than they did against Waterford and it was a much more tactical affair.

Kieran Kingston will have been pleased with the work-rate of all his players and that is what is required most of all, an honest effort throughout. The use of the bench proved effective too, three of the younger guns that he is placing a lot of faith in all making a notable contribution.

Daire Connery displayed great self-assurance with a splendid point from distance, Conor Cahalane had the confidence to split the posts with a brace and Alan Connolly took his score with great aplomb, as well as winning a vital free when he took on the Tipp defence.

TIGHT SQUEEZE: Alan Connolly of Cork is tackled by Tipperary players Pádraic Maher and Cathal Barrett at Semple Stadium. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
TIGHT SQUEEZE: Alan Connolly of Cork is tackled by Tipperary players Pádraic Maher and Cathal Barrett at Semple Stadium. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

It’s very early days yet for this Cork squad of players and there were times on Saturday night when they were punished for over-elaboration. To be fair to referee Johnny Murphy, he consistently applied the overcarrying rule even if at times it did seem a bit harsh.

Goals are not easy to come by these days but the two that Cork delivered, added to the five converted against Waterford has to be viewed as a positive. It showed that if a goal opportunity presents itself there will be a cut off it. In the past in a similar situation, a point might have been the far easier option.

Patrick Horgan showed great presence of mind to set up Tim O’Mahony for the opening green flag and Horgan himself was on the end of a superb piece of work by Darragh Fitzgibbon for the second.

They might have had one or two more but on the other side, the home team had no goal chances at all which made it another comfortable night for Patrick Collins. That’s the second week in a row that Liam Sheedy’s men didn’t threaten and that will need addressing going forward.

Cork had a few bad wides too during the game’s duration but early-season rust needs time to be eradicated.

Shane Kingston’s withdrawal through injury before the game robbed Cork of his cutting edge and pace but the hat-trick of points that Alan Cadogan converted might be very good news. Playing at the top end of his game, the Douglas player can make a huge difference.

Defensively, just the one goal conceded in the two games has to be seen as another positive and there is definitely a more aggressive dimension to Cork’s rearguard action.

At different times all the defenders have done their bit with Mark Coleman the standout player and worthy Man of the Match.

There is no doubt that moving the ball through the lines, as Cork are now doing to a far greater extent can be very high risk and if it does not pay off the punishment can be severe.

But it’s early days yet and so far, so good and this league campaign is all about building up confidence and gathering momentum for the all-important showdown with Limerick in championship.

But the most important aspect of the two games thus far is that players are putting up their hands and giving the management more food for thought.

There seems to be a refreshing hunger among the younger players but, of course, it is all about fine-tuning and getting the right balance in place for the bigger tests that will lie ahead.

Tipperary's Brendan Maher with Darragh Fitzgibbon of Cork at the final whistle. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Tipperary's Brendan Maher with Darragh Fitzgibbon of Cork at the final whistle. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

With respect to Westmeath, Cork should bag the league points in that game, giving them five out of six after three games and that has to be seen as satisfying.

STEP UP

Thereafter you are left with Galway and Limerick to conclude the secondary competition but with Cork and Limerick due for that championship showdown in June there might not be an all-out assault by either team in the league game.

That would make the game against Galway hugely important and getting most of your championship team in place for that Páirc Uí Chaoimh might be prioritised.

Cork were under a fair bit of pressure in the second half against Tipperary on Saturday but they remained resilient and took a gigantic free from Jason Forde to save the night.

As already stated, still in the season’s infancy but to utter sentiments that we expressed last week in the aftermath of the Waterford game similar, room for cautious optimism in the Cork camp.

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