Cork v Clare: Cool heads needed to get hurlers back on track in Thurles

Small improvements rather than sweeping changes is the likeliest course of action
Cork v Clare: Cool heads needed to get hurlers back on track in Thurles

Cork manager Kieran Kingston before the Munster SHC game against Limerick at Páirc Uí Chaoimh last Sunday week. Picture: Inpho/Bryan Keane

AFTER any big game, the analysis ultimately tends to boil down to two pieces that form a complete jigsaw.

The over-arching view will be that winners are great and most of the things they did were right and the losers need a serious look at themselves as they made far too many mistakes. Simplistic, perhaps, but there is some truth to it and the most outspoken pundits will have a field day in outlining what the vanquished should do the next day.

Here’s the thing, though – those self-same critics rarely have their views audited and their reputations altered accordingly. So it was that Eamon Dunphy was able to say that Andy Reid or Wes Hoolahan were the balm to solve all of the Republic of Ireland’s ills – hypotheticals can be anything you want them to be.

In terms of the Cork hurling team, a fashionable view now is that captain Mark Coleman should be switched to centre-forward, with Ciarán Joyce given the number 6 jersey that is likely to be his for the long term. 

However, while that is fine in terms of Fantasy Hurling Manager, it’s a bit like the articles this week showing how Manchester United ‘could line up’ under Erik ten Hag, with seven signings plucked out of the sky. In contrast, the actual Cork management need to deal in more practical terms.

Coleman has never played beyond midfield for Cork in a game of any import while Joyce – who is still eligible for U20, remember – did well at times against Limerick last week but also faced tough moments.


Let’s say that the management were to go with the nuclear option in the second game of a four-game programme and it didn’t work well, with Tony Kelly running Cork a merry dance as Clare won – what would be the next step in that case?

Cork were not at their best against Limerick but Limerick are a great team – a questionable 65 call in the 2019 All-Ireland semi-final loss to Kilkenny away from being on course for five in a row – and can dole out 11-point defeats to pretty much anybody on a given day. Framing a reversal against them as a need for an overhaul is optimistically misguided at best, disingenuous at worst.

Because Cork also lost the league final to Waterford, it’s easier to group the two games as a trend, but a year ago they had also gone down in their final league match – at home to Galway – before losing to Limerick and they were able to refocus to beat Clare and kick-start the campaign.

Cool heads, rather than ripping things up and starting again, will be key if similar is to happen this time around.

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