Wednesday 18 September 2019

Cyril Farrell: 'Cork need to be smarter and it's time for Waterford to re-locate De Búrca and Gleeson'

Jason Forde of Tipperary in action against Niall O’ Leary of Cork during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 1 match between Cork and Tipperary at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Jason Forde of Tipperary in action against Niall O’ Leary of Cork during the Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Round 1 match between Cork and Tipperary at Pairc Ui Chaoimh in Cork. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Tipperary revitalised. Clare relieved. Cork regressing. Waterford regretting. That’s what John Kiely and the Limerick squad will have noted last Sunday as they watched the Munster championship starting without them. Photo: Stock Image

Cyril Farrell

Tipperary revitalised. Clare relieved. Cork regressing. Waterford regretting. That's what John Kiely and the Limerick squad will have noted last Sunday as they watched the Munster championship starting without them.

Of course, first impressions can be notoriously unreliable, but they are all we have to go on for now. Hopefully for Cork and Waterford, their opening games were a misrepresentation of their summer prospects as neither delivered in the manner expected.

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Cork were especially disappointing and while Tipperary turned in an impressive performance, it was greatly facilitated by opposition inadequacies.

John Meyler has had a week to address the problems which, on the evidence of last Sunday, are many are varied.

Still, Cork are better than that, as they proved over the last two seasons, but for whatever reason they were thrown well off course by Tipperary.

There was nothing new or revolutionary about Tipperary's approach. Liam Sheedy took them back to basics, doing the simple things exceptionally well and working hard all over the pitch.

The combination completely unhinged Cork. Forget about tactics, clipboards, psychology and all the other mumbo-jumbo that's spouted nowadays, there's a basic principle in hurling that can never be compromised.

Forwards need to make space, defenders need to close it down. The battle between the two objectives is usually fascinating, but that wasn't the case last Sunday. The Tipp attack - 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer being the perfect example - were easy on the ball and smart off it. They read the spaces well, poured into them and picked up deliveries from their half-backs and midfielders.

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You could see Eamonn O'Shea's hand in how Tipperary went about their business, but even they must have been surprised by how passive the Cork defence were.

Complicated

Not only did they repeatedly fail to read the game, which wasn't even complicated, they were slow and ponderous getting to the point of action.

I would be surprised if the Tipperary forwards didn't have a harder time in their training games. They had so much time and space to get on the ball that they could pick their shots without being greatly disturbed.

If Cork are as loose tomorrow, Limerick will eat them alive. I'd say there were some very frank discussions at Cork training this week because everyone knows there's more to them.

Physically, their defence isn't as dominating as most others and after what happened last Sunday, they will need a lot more help.

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Cork aren't into sweeper systems, especially after trying it unsuccessfully a few years ago, so I expect they will work at squeezing space instead.

That will involve dropping the midfielders deeper, with the half-forwards and full-forwards drifting out further than usual from the Limerick goal. Cork simply have to try it, because if they stay with the same plan, they will be in trouble.

Limerick will play their usual passing game, which has served them so well, although in fairness to Cork, they have coped well against it in the past.

Everything points to a Limerick win, which of course makes it tricky for them. Traditionally, Cork would always fancy themselves to beat Limerick and while people will argue that's irrelevant nowadays, I'm not so sure.

Playing Cork won't bother Limerick in their current upbeat mood, but Meyler will be reminding his squad of how close recent games between them have been. This one is likely to be the same, with Limerick edging it.

Waterford are under pressure already after losing their first game, but I expect a far more even performance from them against Tipperary than they produced against Clare.

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Maybe the demands and expectations of having a first Munster championship game at home for years got to them. They certainly didn't hurl with any fluency for a long time and while they could have snatched a draw, their overall performance didn't deserve it.

One thing I can't understand about Waterford is why they don't put Tadhg de Búrca at full-back and Austin Gleeson at centre-back. They are two fantastic hurlers, so build the defence around them.

Instead, De Búrca is being asked to do a number of defensive jobs, while Gleeson is given a more advanced role.

Securing

I don't get that. I'd lock him at centre-back and leave him there. He would score as much from there as he does further forward, while also securing the first line of defence. With De Búrca at No 3 and Gleeson at No 6, Waterford would, in my view, be far better defensively.

Tipperary's impressive win over Cork makes them overwhelming favourites tomorrow, but while I expect them to win, they will face a big test.

With a game behind them - complete with several lessons - Waterford will be better. They will need to be against a Tipp team whose confidence is soaring.

They look set for another win, probably leaving Waterford needing to take full points from their last two game to have a chance to staying in the All-Ireland race.

Dublin v Wexford is intriguing. I was surprised how Dublin allowed themselves to be bullied by Kilkenny last Saturday.

Yes, it's hard to win in Nowlan Park, but Dublin gave themselves a chance in the first half. From there on, they allowed Kilkenny to dominate them physically.

They will probably be more aggressive tomorrow but I still think Wexford will win.

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