Linda Mellerick: Cork impress so far but huge gap in camogie between big three and the rest

Rebels are straight into the semi-finals of the league but could have done with an extra match
Linda Mellerick: Cork impress so far but huge gap in camogie between big three and the rest

Cork's Linda Collins on the attack against Waterford. Picture: Patrick Browne

CORK will be a little disappointed that they were drawn straight through to the semi-final of this year’s camogie league, preferring to go down the quarter-final route and avail of another game. 

Galway, Kilkenny, and Cork topped their respective groups, and a draw was made to determine which two would advance to the semi-final and the third would be paired with the three runners up and enter a quarter-final stage. 

So, it's Kilkenny v Limerick and Offaly v Tipperary. I believe it's Cork V Galway in one semi and the quarter-final winners in the other.

I have to say that I’ve been impressed with a lot of Cork’s play after just two games. 

The disappointing aspect regards camogie is how far ahead Cork, Galway, and Kilkenny are from the rest. 

I felt that Tipp and Waterford would kick on from last year, but they were very poor in their games against Cork. 

We keep saying it’s early days and yes, six weeks is a long time in order to get yourselves in order, but these teams have a lot to do, and I think at this stage for the next few years, it’s beyond them. 

Tipp manager Bill Mullally is trying to build a strong panel but unless you have it coming through the ranks you won’t succeed. 

Cork are the only county where that differs. We have so many clubs and a wide pick that if underage success doesn’t come our way, we can still challenge for senior honours. 

It does help massively though and with Cork bidding for three in a row of minor All-Ireland titles last year, before Covid put a stop to it, the future remains strong for us.

The only weak link I can currently spot in Cork’s set-up is their full-back line. 

Waterford's Iona Heffernan with Cork's Amy O'Connor. Picture: Patrick Browne
Waterford's Iona Heffernan with Cork's Amy O'Connor. Picture: Patrick Browne

That’s not being disrespectful to those that have lined out here in the past few weeks. 

Those that have are relatively new to the panel and it goes without saying that it has to be a weak spot experience-wise.

Taking Laura Treacy out of full-back is a risky move yet I do feel she is well suited to the centre-back role and will lord it there. 

However, if Cork have troubles at full, they may have to shift Treacy back and have a plan B for who will anchor the defence in the centre.

It all depends on how the opposition approach their attack as to whether Cork’s vulnerability is exposed. 

The game has turned into a movements game where half-forward lines play deep, Cork included, and try a one or two-player full-forward line. Cork’s full and half back lines will only go so far hence their defence will outnumber the opposition every time, and in that scenario, the numerical advantage will prevail, regardless of lack of experience. 

In turn, Cork are playing deep from their forward division and running at teams, creating space by delivering fast ball, faster than they have at times in the past, and switching the play if an opening is on. 

The ability of the side to take long-distance scores has had a big impact on the success of this. 

That’s what weaker opposition lack. You drag your players away from goal then you have to be assured they’ll pick off scores from distance and when a break comes, go for it. 

Otherwise, you’ll hit a brick wall. 

Cork are good at that and Amy O’Connor got two good goals again last Saturday.  Her first was excellent, where she found possibly the only gap available to bury a shot. 

She has a goal mentality and as mentioned last week I’d like to see Fiona Keating get more game time as I feel she has it too.

The current table is interesting to read even though it is early in the league. Cork, Kilkenny, and Galway all finished with two wins from two, six points. 

Kilkenny topped the scoring average with 30 points (5-29 to 0-14 against). 

Next was Galway by 20 points (6-24 to 0-22 against) and Cork came in with 15 (6-29 v 1-29). 

You can argue any way you wish regarding who had the stronger or weaker group and if Cork hadn’t taken their foot off the pedal against Waterford, they’d have another ten points to play with. 

But it doesn’t matter really and reading too much into it at this stage won’t unearth much at all.

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