THERE was a tremendous crowd in Thurles on Saturday, with an especially large Cork support, and a great atmosphere around the place.
Clare and Wexford also brought a large following, but Galway were lacking in support which was surprising. I know they were disappointed after the Leinster final defeat, but they must not have had much faith in ther team.
Nevertheless, the general feeling was that we were going to see two marvellous games. I have to say these quarter-finals were most disappointing. No real championship tempo to either game.
Going on the first game, Galway and Cork set that tone. A really forgettable first half, no intensity, no what you call real championship knockout hurling. Both teams standing back, awful loose hurling, no physical exchanges, no real sparking play from anybody.
You could say that it was like a challenge match. The referee didn't have to worry about anyone tackling too hard. People yawning and having a chat all around me. They weren't being entertained on the pitch.
I happen to notice a lot of stats men running across the pitch at half time to the various dressing rooms. I'd like to know what kind of information they relay to the management teams. What's it for? Do they tell them, it's time to change the way they play, or maybe the way they are playing is not suiting the team?
Or do they go into things that are not relevant at all? Like, how many puck outs they had, or wides they had, because I think people playing the game should know that automatically.
I can't make sense out of it. Surely if you are playing the game with the wrong style and method, it's time to change the way you play!
I have been watching this Cork team making the same mistakes and doing the same things for the last number of years.
Taking four or five touches to get the ball 50 metres, when one touch should do. Also making 10 passes to get a score, when probably two would do.
This is a game Cork could and should have won. They were the better team for most of it, but still did the silly things that cost them.
The more passes made the more likely it is going to break down. I think direct hurling from Cork here would definitely have been more advantageous to them.
Alan Cadogan came onto the field and scored three great points because of his direct hurling. I think Cork are not letting the ball in fast enough to the forwards they have. They are over-playing the ball, taking way too much out of it, and giving the opposing defence time to settle down.
The Galway defence were there for the taking but Cork did not capitalise on their lack of pace, especially in the centre. That is because they were not direct enough in their play.
Patrick Horgan improved the free taking when he came on. Would they have won if he was on from the start? It's hard to know, but I definitely think that if Cadogan was on they would have won this game.
It is all very well having nice hurlers, but I would prefer to have good leaders with a hardness attached to their hurling, which Cork seem to lack.
Also, Patrick Collins, the goalkeeper, doesn't inspire confidence at times. He needs to be more demanding of his defenders.
I have met Kieran Kingston a few times. He is one of the good guys of hurling, maybe too good. Players can let you down at times when you are like that.
My advice to Kieran is to get out. He has enough done with this team, but they have done nothing for him.
Brian Lohan can be very proud of the character his team showed in coming back beat Wexford when it did not seem possible. Some great leaders did that for him: Tony Kelly, Ryan Taylor, Aaron Shannaher, Shane Meehan, Shane O'Donnell and my Man of the Match the brilliant David McInerney.