Tony Considine: Cork hurlers in a strong position but concentration must improve

Rebels hurlers looked impressive for spells against Galway, but need to tighten up for championship
Tony Considine: Cork hurlers in a strong position but concentration must improve

Jack O'Connor of Cork is tackled by Fintan Burke and Padraic Mannion of Galway last weekend at Páirc Ui Chaoimh. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

AFTER the weekend's games it is very hard to know what you have to score to win a game now. 

When you look at the scoring that Kilkenny got against Clare, 1-25, Tipperary against Waterford, 3-21, and Cork versus Galway, 2-23. All these were losing teams. Does it tell you if the league was taken seriously or not? In my opinion it was not.

It was all about championship preparation and the GAA was at fault here by not having a league final. An important fixture one time, taken seriously by a lot of teams, and a big competition to win. 

Even the way the groups are divided didn't help the competition.

Anyway it is what it is now, and if Galway and Kilkenny meet in the championship, at least they would be playing for the league title as well. If they don't it'll be shared: what a joke!

I saw two league games last weekend, the first on Saturday, Clare playing Kilkenny, and a lot of people were surprised with the result. This was a real hard-fought game with Clare showing some great fight and spirit. You could say it was a complete reflection of their manager, Brian Lohan, when he was playing himself. Brian had all these qualities and now he is passing them on to his team, just pure hard work. 

And of course with guys like Tony Kelly, who got some fantastic scores from frees and play again, and a great goal by David Reidy that would grace any occasion, Clare are beginning to show a bit of form at the right time before they take on Waterford shortly.

Then on Sunday, I got to see Cork and Waterford. What a beautiful day it was in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on a beautiful pitch; I have never seen it look so well. 

They always say the Cork hurlers improve when the sunshine is on their backs. While this was a big improvement from the Limerick game, there is still room for more and I'm sure Kieran Kingston and his management team know that. I'm also certain the team know themselves as well.

I felt this was going to be the game that Cork would target against a team that is one of the favourites this year. I think there are two big players Cork are missing that did not play in this game. 

Cathal Mannion of Galway shoots to score his side's third goal at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last Sunday. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Cathal Mannion of Galway shoots to score his side's third goal at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last Sunday. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Their state of fitness I do not know about, but I believe they are carrying injuries that make them doubts for next month in championship: Colm Spillane and Bill Cooper. If these two are missing for Cork they will be a huge loss as they are both good leaders and physically imposing players. Cork do not have enough of these type of players.

INCONSISTENT

Another problem for Cork is their consistency of performance over the 70 minutes. Look at a guy like Jack O'Connor, who is a very skillful and pacey forward. He had a very good first half, but he did not continue that form for the second half. 

Also Darragh Fitzgibbon, one of the top midfielders and he got some great points in this game, but he also needs to be more consistent over the 70 minutes as he is a very influential player for Cork.

Another similar player with this problem is Shane Kingston. Shane is an electrifying player when on song and can burn any defender with his pace and skill but in my opinion, he doesn't do it often enough over the 70 minutes. I'm sure the management have seen that as well and would like to rectify it. 

Is it a lack of concentration or is it just players running out of steam, or not working hard enough?

I'm sure Kieran Kingston is pleased enough with this performance but maybe a bit disappointed with the result. This was a great work-out before the championship but there are a few positions he will have concerns about. 

Conor Whelan of Galway tries to get away from  Sean O'Donoghue of Cork. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Conor Whelan of Galway tries to get away from  Sean O'Donoghue of Cork. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

He has a few more weeks to work it out. By this stage, he should know the majority of his starting 15 when the real hurling starts, and the serious business begins because we all know that it has not been serious up to now. It has been 'tickling' rather than 'tackling' hurling.

REST IN PEACE

Before I sign off I would like to offer my sympathies to the family of the one and only Tommy Lynch. 

Tommy was a great character and looked after everyone, and I have to say when I was involved with Clare, whenever we visited Páirc Uí Chaoimh he was always there at the gate with a great welcome. 

He had a great Cork wit and a friendliness about him that left a lasting impression on everyone he met. 

A part of Cork will be missing with Tommy gone. I'm sure he will hold his own above at the pearly gates, he will probably be in charge! 

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.

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