Tony Considine: Alan Connolly gives Cork an ideal focal point in attack

Four goals in three matches shows what a difference the Blackrock forward has made to the Rebels
Tony Considine: Alan Connolly gives Cork an ideal focal point in attack

Cork’s Alan Connolly scores the first goal against Tipp on Sunday. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

I was in Thurles early on Sunday.

I'm glad that I was, for at least I got to see the All-Ireland U20 contest between Kilkenny and Limerick with Kilkenny winning out by the narrowest of margins. Typical Kilkenny kept at it until the end. 

As Brian Cody said one time, there will always be good hurlers in Kilkenny, and I'm sure he will be looking at some of these lads, as a lot of them have the real Kilkenny grit and steel, very important for a winning mentality.

After that contest, both Tipp and Cork were setting up for their routine warm-up and I have never seen as many obstacles in the field, bollards everywhere, with most of them on the Tipperary side. I thought it was roadworks going on; the only thing missing was traffic lights. 

Personally, I do not know what it's all for. Is it just a show for the lads doing it? Far less would be a lot better.

Talking to a few hurling people from Tipperary beforehand, I gathered they were not too sure that Tipp would put it up to Cork in any way. After about 10 minutes I said to myself were they for real? 

After all, Tipp had a lifeline, and it was Cork gave them that last week when they beat Waterford. Yet despite being all over Cork and really moving well, the wheels came off the wagon. 

Tipp were awarded a penalty. Noel McGrath stepped up, which I was surprised at, I thought it have been Jason Forde. It didn't go in and 30 seconds later Alan Connolly scored a brilliant goal. 

LEADER

Then Cork got on a roll, playing champagne hurling all over the field, and Conor Lehane was on fire scoring as well as setting up scores. I don't think I have ever seen him work as hard.

Conor Lehane produced one of his best games ever in a red jersey last weekend. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Conor Lehane produced one of his best games ever in a red jersey last weekend. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

He was superb in all aspects of his play, and all Cork players responded, but it was definitely Lehane that set the trend. Leadership at its best, what you want from your star foward.

The defence, apart from the first few minutes, were on top, especially the full-back line. Cork went man-marking the Tipp forwards. Not marking space this time but sticking to the man; the right thing to do. 

Robert Downey was again colossal as was Sean O'Donoghue and an under-rated Damian Cahalane.  Mark Coleman was outstanding at wing-back, his best position, well able to take scores and delivered some great ball. 

Luke Meade worked really hard, going back helping his defence and allowing a very effective Darragh Fitzgibbon to attack. Darragh took his goal very well and also set up Tim O'Mahony for another. 

Shane Kingston and Robbie O'Flynn put in great shifts also, but I think the man that is giving this Cork attack a real target is young man Alan Connolly. 

Connolly's DNA is excellent, from a hurling point of view, related to the great Cashmans, who were brilliant players for Cork. He is keeping up a great tradition, brave as a lion and bould with it. And well able to take his scores. He is a real plus. 

The very experienced Seamus Harnedy is helping out in a big way.

Cork, while this was a great win, would not want to get carried away. I'm sure Kieran Kingston will keep them grounded. This was a pathetic display by Tipp. No effort from a lot of the players. 

Cork manager Kieran Kingston deserves huge praise for saving the Rebels' season. Picture: George Tewkesbury/Sportsfile
Cork manager Kieran Kingston deserves huge praise for saving the Rebels' season. Picture: George Tewkesbury/Sportsfile

A lot of supporters left the game well before it was over, and it was hard to blame them. There was very little fight in a lot of these Tipp players, no aggression whatsoever, no intensity, apart from the first few minutes. 

They gave Cork way too much space. Cork got so much time on the ball, they could have said a few Hail Mary prayers and still scored.

Tipperary should have shown more fight and pride in the jersey. Apart from Noel McGrath and Ronan Maher, they did not offer much more. A big disappointment, so that is why I think Cork should be aware there are way tougher games ahead.

I'm sure Kingston and his management team are well aware of this. 

Still, opponents will be wary of Cork. A week is a long time in sport and a lot of hurling to be done yet. And Cork are still in the mix.  

Who would have said that after their first two games?

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