Colm Parkinson: Rebel sweeper system gets the brush-off from Tipperary
Published 25/05/2016 | 02:30
Sweepers have been around the hurling scene for over 10 years now. My first memory of seeing one was when Anthony Daly used Alan Markham in the role in 2004.
The tactic disappeared for a while as traditional counties like Cork, Tipperary and Kilkenny dominated the scene but has made a comeback in the last few years, starting with Davy's Clare in 2013.
On Sunday, it looked as though Cork were trialling something new for the first time.
Firstly, William Egan spent too much time in behind his full-back line. It looked like his brief was to prevent Tipp scoring goals but when Tipp chose to go for points, he was completely redundant in there. Cork might as well have been playing with 14 men. A sweeper must position himself in front of his full-back line which allows the full-back line mark their men from behind.
A sweeper has three main functions: (1) Intercept passes intended for the opposition's full-forward line; (2) Failing number 1, they must double up on the man in possession, when possible, and try to create a turnover; (3) When the ball is turned over to break at pace and create an extra man to attack.
Egan didn't achieve any of the above. Another huge mistake Cork made was to allow Tipp have a free man on their half-back line. The two Mahers were completely unmarked at different times during the game on the half-back line. A corner-forward needed to push up on them and leave the spare Tipp defender in the full-back line.
Corner-backs' distribution isn't usually as good as their half-back line colleagues and they're too far back to influence attacking moves. Leaving Tipp with a spare man on the half-back line was criminal and made life so difficult for Cork around the middle third and in their full-back line, despite having the sweeper in there.
Cork need to abandon the sweeper and their leaders need to stand up and be counted.