Munster duo need games
CORK started the league disappointingly – with two defeats on-the-trot – and they finished it disappointingly – again with two defeats on-the-trot.
Throw in the the latest disappointment to befall Colm O'Neill and you've got a Cork team still not quite sure of where it's at despite coming off the back of seven league games in just a little over two months.
For a team which won the Munster title last year, for a team which won the last three league titles in-a-row, it's a somewhat strange place to be.
A team with that record of success – they were All Ireland champions just three years short ago – should be more settled you'd imagine.
Conor Counihan has used this league to blood new players and to try out new systems, to varying degrees of success. Andrew O'Sullivan, Mark Collins and Tomás Clancy have been finds, but the tactics and the style of football employed at times has been quite baffling.
The game they played in Austin Stack Park was not just horrendous to look at, it was also mostly ineffective. In fairness they'd lost O'Neill before that match, they'd lost Cadogan before that match, they'd lost Donncha O'Connor and they'd lost Graham Canty.
Still if you were a Cork fan you'd have to write it down as an opportunity missed. They could have taken the game – with the wind at their backs in the first half – to a Kerry team still lacking in confidence.
Perhaps, Counihan was simply holding his cards close to his chest ahead of a likely Munster final clash with the Kingdom. Perhaps, he saw little benefit to another run out or two in Croke Park or even another National League crown.
That doesn't seem likely though does it? With about two months until the Munster final, during which time Cork will play just two games (barring unlikely replays), an extra competitive game or two would be more than welcome.
The same goes for Kerry and their new manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice. Between now and the Munster final they too will play but two games and, as Tomás Ó Sé pointed out this week, Kerry will play both of those games (assuming they win the first of course) in the space of just six days. Two months, two games, six days... crazy stuff.
Strange as it is to say – considering Kerry's dreadful start to the league – they would seem to be in a far stronger position at present than Cork do. With Cooper on the forty, with Donaghy at midfield, with the backs coming forward in support, with McGuire and Lyne and Griffin finding their feet, Kerry are much more settled than Cork.
They could always do with more games – they'll, no doubt, hit the challenge game circuit – but the need is, arguably, more pressing on Cork.