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Stapleton on red alert for Rebel sharpshooters

IT was impossible to witness the explosive quantities of the Cork forward line during their four-game Munster SHC success and not conclude that in the expanses Croke Park they could drop even more explosive payloads into their inside two.

Between them, Patrick Horgan and Alan Cadogan have scored 2-52 in four games or 21 points from play. For his part, Paudie O'Sullivan has 1-4 in just 55 minutes of Championship hurling spanned over three bench cameos.

So if there's a particular group on high alert on Sunday in Croke Park, it's Tipperary's full-back line.

"They're full of skill and life, well able to read the game and get out to the ball first," says Paddy Stapleton, now firmly re-established amongst what has been a sort of rolling defensive selection until quite recently.

"We have a tough job on our hands but that's what we are there for, we have to try and curb quality players and impose our game and read the couple of balls that come in and get out to them first.

"I have played against them a good few times in colleges and played with a few of them so they know us and we know them. It will be no different to any other battle that we have with them.

Keeping the hurling equivalent of a clean sheet against Dublin in Thurles did plenty for their collective confidence. "It was a big thing," Stapleton acknowledges.

"There is no point in saying when you have been conceding a few goals that it is nice when you do shut up shop, it gives you confidence and the positivity that you can do it. It was as a unit, there was no stand-out performance, especially from the full back line, no one went to town, coming out with balls.

"It was down to communication and lads trusting each other, really wanting to keep that clean sheet, no matter what the score was.

"That's our job every day and we have to be a little bit more consistent."


A marked improvement on their Galway showing when the sheer height of Johnny Glynn had them in sporadic states of panic.

"I was more concerned than anyone in the back line because we were conceding so many goals. I think in general there wasn't that much of superiority.

"Looking back on the game, nice balls were floated in and they had a great attacker on the edge of the square who was able to catch the ball; that's how a lot of the goals were scored.

"On the day we were still tipping over scores. I thought we were playing well enough but just had to keep the head down and keep going."

"We'd be very disappointed, especially when it is individual mistakes, such as high balls caught and they go in and that seems to be happening a bit, particularly against Galway.

Stapleton concludes: "Hopefully now we have stopped the rot and I hope that is the case."