Friday 20 April 2018

Direct approach pays dividends for Cork's talented forwards

Hurley: Cork’s man of the match. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile
Hurley: Cork’s man of the match. Photo: Brendan Moran / Sportsfile newsdesk

Sentiment does not come into sport, except in the minds of those who don't appreciate how important it is to be ruthless.

Most GAA fans would have loved to see Monaghan reach the EirGrid U-21 final but at this stage of the competition there is no room for sentiment. There was very little between these two excellent teams in Tullamore, but overall Cork were slightly better for several reasons.

For starters, they were bigger, stronger and better in the air. Secondly, they played a more direct brand of football that saw them constantly breaking forward as soon as they won possession in their own half.

They made the ball do the work and only used short passing in moderation whereas Monaghan tended to protect the ball in possession through short passing. This allowed the young Rebels to consistently put pressure on the ball.

The fact that Cork had a big full-forward who largely played in that position probably dictated the basic Cork style and they rained many kicks into the line of Brian Coakley, Peter Kelleher, already a member of the Cork senior team, and Michael Hurley.

Between them they scored 1-5 and this was the basis of Cork's success. Of course, in the Monaghan full-forward line was the brilliant Brian McGinn who scored 1-6 - a point more than that Cork frontline.

Despite Cork favouring the kick pass so much and using it to good effect, it was ironic that the last play that led to their two goals, from Ryan Harkin and Kelleher, was a fisted pass, showing the advantage of knowing when to fist pass and when to kick.

Bearing in mind that we are talking about a Cork football team there were a couple of amazing statistics; all six forwards scored from play in the first half, but what was even more astonishing was that every score of their 2-15 came from play.

What a game we have in store for Saturday week when Cork and Mayo meet in the All-Ireland final.

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