Wednesday 24 May 2017

Cyril Farrell: Monday morning madness sees only angels and devils

Galway's Conor Whelan proved to be a fine choice for the starting squad against Cork
Galway's Conor Whelan proved to be a fine choice for the starting squad against Cork

Cyril Farrell

The winners really do take it all. That was illustrated yet again in the aftermath of Galway's win over Cork, when the sheer delight in the west was in direct proportion to the dark gloom on Leeside.

Suddenly, Cork were depicted as hopeless cases, destined for dispatch to the doldrums for a lengthy stretch, while Galway were ready to win the All-Ireland.

Monday morning madness holds that there aren't so much winners and losers as perfect heroes and no-hopers.

It's never that simple. Yes, Galway hurled very smartly and resolutely last Sunday, bringing all their undoubted talents together in an impressive package, but it can only be seen as another start.

The test - and it's one Anthony Cunningham acknowledged straight away - is to get real consistency into their game, not just for one day but for every day.

I thought Cork would win, not because they were better hurlers than Galway but because they looked that bit more settled. Cork had played very well against Wexford and Clare, so there was no reason to believe they would be so incredibly sloppy last Sunday.

Eulogise

Now, there's a rush to rubbish everything about them and to eulogise Galway. It's a classic case of basing all judgments on the last event you've seen.

If Galway had lost last Sunday - and bear in mind they were outsiders - they would be exactly where Cork are now, shipping criticism from all quarters, most of all from their own supporters.

Cunningham's selection policy would be demonised, especially if promoting Conor Whelan (right) for his first game had backfired. In fact, it worked brilliantly and there's a lot more to come from this young fella.

Whelan (Kinvara) was one of five players from intermediate clubs on the starting 15 - the others were his Kinvara clubmate Colm Callanan, Pádraig and Cathal Mannion from Ahascragh-Fohenagh and John Hanbury from Rahoon-Newcastle.

If Galway had lost, Cunningham would be slated for having one-third of the team from intermediate teams when senior hurling in Galway is so strong. To his credit, he held their nerve and also judged it right in terms of the rest of the team selection.

Unlike the Leinster final when the quality of ball to the forward line was poor, it was much better this time, thanks to quicker striking from the half-back/ midfield area.

With Johnny Glynn having a great day and Cathal Mannion scoring points for fun, Cork were in trouble from early on. Ultimately, the game ran away from them, but it doesn't mean the county is automatically headed for a severe depression. If that were the case, where does it leave Clare and Wexford, both of whom lost to Cork?

And where do Limerick stand after losing to a Dublin team that were beaten by Waterford last Sunday? Does it mean that only counties doing anything right are the All-Ireland semi-finalists? Of course not.

The reality is that you can't make judgments purely on a game-by-game basis, with your opinion fully formed by the last results or the last sequence of results.

Nobody will be more disappointed with the nature of the Cork defeat than Jimmy Barry-Murphy, but he will also realise that it was one of those days when they never really got into the game.

Competitive

Cork are better than that, maybe not good enough to win an All-Ireland - although they came mighty close two years ago - but strong enough to be competitive at the top end of the market.

Losing to a Galway team that everyone accepts has huge potential won't change that. And I'll make another prediction - Cork's minors didn't reach the Munster final this year, but as many of them will make the senior grade as the Tipperary or Limerick lads who played in the final.

The Cork-Galway game attracted most attention because of the unpredictable turn it took, but the Waterford-Dublin game was more competitive. I regarded it all along as more important to Waterford than the Munster final because when they lost to Tipperary, they still had something else to aim for, whereas a second defeat would have closed off the season disappointingly. Their response to the new demands was first-class. Once they imposed their system on the game in the second half, they always looked likely winners.

It leaves them with only one defeat from 11 League and Championship games heading into August. With the exception of Kilkenny, I doubt if any county has done that for a long time.

And the way Waterford are playing, there could be more to come.

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