John Horgan: Cork rout of Westmeath doesn't help hurling at any level

Páirc Uí Chaoimh hammering was tough to take for the Leinster side
John Horgan: Cork rout of Westmeath doesn't help hurling at any level

Cork's Eoin Cadogan, Niall Cashman and Niall Cashman tackle Westmeath's Eoghan Ahearn. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

LAST Sunday’s league encounter at Páirc Uí Chaoimh did nothing for hurling, or for the game’s promotion.

When one team defeats the other by 33 points, it illustrates the lopsided nature of the 70 minutes and also how the losing team was way out of its depth.

In this case, the losing team was Westmeath, but no blame should be directed towards them.

One has no doubt that the people charged with the responsibility of looking after the Lake County team are just as genuine in their work-rate and application as any other management team in the country.

The same sentiments apply to the players under them; they love the game as much as any other bunch and each day they go out to do their best.

In the hurling pockets of the county one has no doubt that the game’s promotion is uppermost and that will continue.

But the bottom line in all of this is very simple, they are nowhere at the level of the counties that they are coming up against in this league and would be much better off competing at a lower level.

Getting hammered by 30 and 33 points as was the case against Galway in their first outing and at Páirc Ui Chaoimh last Sunday has to be soul-destroying for players and the powers that be should take note.

Cork's Patrick Horgan goes past Westmeath's Shane Clavin with Alan Connolly awaiting a pass last Sunday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork's Patrick Horgan goes past Westmeath's Shane Clavin with Alan Connolly awaiting a pass last Sunday. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

They rightfully gained promotion to Division 1A of the league and it would have been great for young hurlers in the county to have had the opportunity of seeing some of the game’s elite coming to play in their patch and performing in front of them if the gates of stadiums were open to the public.

But, at the same time, the playing field needs to be a lot more level for counties like Westmeath and the system should ensure that it should be.

You tell me what a hammering like the one they endured last Sunday does for the game up there. Of course, there must be a reward if you achieve something at a lower level, but it must not be what Westmeath have experienced in two of their three games thus far.

Cork had a jobto do last Sunday and, after a sluggish start when they were off target five or six times in the opening minutes, they did what was required of them.

But the big question has to be, what did Kieran Kingston and his management team learn from the day, if anything at all?

Of course, they were pleased with the win, with the huge tally of scores that they registered and the fact that, after three games, they sit at the top of the 1A table.

Between the starting 15 and the subs that were introduced, 13 players got on the scoresheet.

Some of the seven goals were very well executed and for newcomers like Alan Connolly and Shane Barrett, every score is a confidence booster.

Connolly’s second goal was nicely set up by Simon Kennefick and will have pleased the management.

Kingston is getting game time into plenty of his squad and that will further their development. Of course, this truncated league exercise is all about having your best 15 players on the starting block for the big championship showdown with Limerick.

The management fully realise that reading any great amount into this league campaign might be a bit misleading, but at the same time, they must see things from some of the newcomers that they might place their trust in when the championship selection debate begins.

POSITIVES

Connolly is certainly putting his hand up in that regard and in the game time that he has got so far he has done very well; as has Shane Barrett.

Again, without reading a whole pile into it, the form of Alan Cadogan must be encouraging too.

A return of 1-4 showed that he is finding his range again and a return to the top end of his game would be a big plus.

Apart from one slack puck-out, young Ger Collins was very confident in goal and will be a very able deputy to his brother.

So really, it’s so far, so good for this Cork squad, five points from three games is good going, but the bigger questions will be forthcoming when Limerick and Galway come out of the opposition corner.

Limerick have now lost twice in the campaign and won’t want to give Cork any sort of a psychological edge before they meet in the Munster semi-final.

Meanwhile, the importance of a deep panel was illustrated again in Tipp’s fine win over Galway.

The subs brought in over the course of the game delivered six points and that made the difference with Michael Breen’s two late scores very well executed.

There was a positive return too from the older guard with Noel McGrath, ‘Bubbles’ Dwyer, and Jason Forde impacting heavily on the scoreboard.

This time, Tipp were not overly reliant on Forde’s free-taking and the goal drought that was endured in the games against Limerick and Waterford ending with Forde and Noel McGrath delivering a fine brace between them.

You could say that the secondary competition has not really ignited to any great extent yet, but things are still moving along nicely as the championship preparations intensify.

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