Tuesday 20 February 2018

Cyril Farrell: Don't make September's predictions by June's form

Dublin were favourites to beat Galway last weekend but because it went wrong they are now being written off
Dublin were favourites to beat Galway last weekend but because it went wrong they are now being written off

Cyril Farrell

A good test of the standing Cork and Dublin currently enjoy with the hurling gods will come when the draw for the first round of the All-Ireland qualifiers is made.

Indeed, it could decide what the rest of the championship holds for them. If they are drawn against each other, they'll know that neither is flavour of the summer.

As for whichever gets an 'away' assignment, it will be a clear sign that they are on their own and might as well try and do a deal with the devil.

Of course, if the gods are onside, there's another scenario. Both could end up with a relatively gentle re-introduction to the championship, especially Cork, who will definitely draw Leinster opposition.

Their list of possible opponents is comprised of Westmeath, Offaly, Dublin, and, most likely, Laois and Wexford, who will probably lose to Galway and Kilkenny respectively.

From a Cork viewpoint, the worst draw from that lot would be Dublin in Parnell Park or Wexford in Wexford Park.

Dublin's scene is trickier. They could be drawn against Cork, Clare, the losers of Tipperary/Limerick or one of the five Leinster teams not in the final. Effectively, they don't have as good a chance of getting a favourable draw as Cork.


The various draw permutations are very important because what both Cork and Dublin need most of all is a confidence-boosting win to get them back on the road.

Dublin were favourites to beat Galway last Saturday, but because it went horribly wrong, they are being written off. That doesn't stack up.

Similarly with Cork, even if they have lost twice in five weeks to Waterford.

Tipperary and Galway also lost to Waterford in the League so top counties have to start getting used to the idea of Derek McGrath's boys being a very powerful force.

I certainly wouldn't write the exit lines for Dublin or Cork yet. Dublin scored 1-18 last Saturday - which would have won the drawn games six days earlier - and got nothing from two penalties so their final tally could quite easily have been 3-18, which wins more games than it loses.

Truth is, they were caught cold against the wind in the first 10 minutes last week, but then it's not the first time that Galway blitzed opposition when the right mood took over.

Dublin need a fully fit Peter Kelly in the full-back line and Liam Rushe restored to centre-back. If that happens and they get a favourable draw in the first qualifier round, they will be back in the game. So too with Cork.

Seamus Harnedy's absence was a setback last Sunday, even if his replacement, Pa Cronin was their best forward. Presumably, both will be aboard next time out.

There were some very disappointing aspects for Cork last Sunday, not least the lack of impact made by Conor Lehane, Patrick Horgan and Aidan Walsh, but everyone knows there's a lot more to them than that.

There's more to Cork as a whole too and the same goes for Dublin.

Hurling is a bit like golf now. Any one of the top golfers are capable of taking a tournament on a given weekend and just because someone doesn't win, it doesn't mean they're slipping. Even Rory McIlroy can hit bogies!

Kilkenny have been - and still are - hurling's market leaders but there's damn all behind their closest pursuers. And, despite last weekend's results, that includes Cork and Dublin.

Remember 2010? Cork beat Tipperary by 10 points in the Munster quarter-final, yet Tipp won the All-Ireland.

2012: Kilkenny won the All-Ireland after losing the Leinster final to Galway by 10 points.

2013: Cork beat Clare by eight points in the Munster semi-final, but it was the Banner who won the All-Ireland.

The moral of those stories is that in a second-chance system, May/June results should not be over overvalued.

Best wait until a team's back is really against the wall when defeat really means the end of the line.

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