Rebels reap rich dividends from counter-attacks
Published 22/04/2015 | 02:30
One of the striking features of Cork's league campaign has been the propensity of their defenders to get forward to create and take scores.
So far in eight league games four different defenders have scored goals while Conor Dorman has scored at least a point in six of those games.
Jamie O'Sullivan got the ball rolling against Dublin on the opening day with Tomas Clancy against Donegal, Stephen O'Donoghue against Derry and Tom Clancy against Donegal the last day reaping dividends from their adventures.
The high rate of scores from defenders is a legacy of a counter-attacking style they have been fine-tuning off the platform of a stronger defensive structure that has been built around the use of at least one sweeper, generally Colm O'Driscoll, with Mark Collins withdrawn from attack to midfield.
After the opening game, Dublin boss Jim Gavin described them as the most defensive Cork team he had seen but after the humiliating defeat to Kerry in last year's Munster final the days of an open free-flowing Cork playing man-to-man football were over, at least in the short term.
They began the process of 'locking down' against Sligo in last year's fourth round qualifier but have still showed some flexibility in their approach in certain league games so far, notably the Kerry game in Pairc Ui Rinn when neither side was prepared to give any indication as to how they set up if they meet later this year.
Cork have developed a habit of scoring goals created from incisive runs along or close to the end-line. Dorman (above) has hit 0-7 to illustrate his worth getting forward from the half-back line while Michael Shields, Eoin Cadogan and Brian O'Driscoll have also been on target.
Donegal perfected the art of swift counter-attacking when they won their last All-Ireland title in 2012, their defenders grabbing 1-17 from their seven Championship games.
A year later Mayo took attacking depth to a new level again with 2-20 from six games from their defenders, an average of 4.3 points per game and a return of just under 20 pc that summer. Lee Keegan scored in every Championship game.
Cork are not quite at that level given how freely their forwards Colm O'Neill and Brian Hurley, in particular, have scored. But with 4-11 bagged from 14-108 scored a 15 pc return on all scores reflects a policy that has worked well for the Rebels this spring.