Monday 18 December 2017

Cyril Farrell: Galway pass major test but no magic wand can fix Cork woes

The look on the face of Cork hurling manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy says it all as the second half action unfolds during yesterday’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Galway in Semple Stadium
The look on the face of Cork hurling manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy says it all as the second half action unfolds during yesterday’s All-Ireland quarter-final against Galway in Semple Stadium

Cyril Farrell

Yesterday was a big test for Galway and it was one they passed with flying colours. A lot of the focus and attention will be on Cork but the fact is Galway stopped them from playing and, by doing so, nullified their attacking threat.

From the word go, they put a marker on Mark Ellis (who was playing as a sweeper) and drove at him all day.

Ellis is normally influential but once Galway took him out of the game, they grew in confidence with every passing minute.

Their movement up front was unbelievable. The Cork backs couldn't live with them and the likes of Jonathan Glynn and Conor Whelan were popping up all over the place and knocking over scores.

The fact that Galway hit 23 wides tells its own story. The scoreline could have been even more lopsided and Anthony Cunningham will be doing his best to instil the belief in his players that they have the ability to make those count the next day.


Galway have a lot of talented players coming through and that was epitomised by Whelan who was handed his debut straight from the minor team at just 18. It was a brave call to throw him in the deep end but it definitely paid off.

There is a clear pathway there and Cunningham is reaping the rewards. The same can't be said for his opposite number Jimmy Barry-Murphy.

I have a degree of sympathy for him because the quality players needed to compete at this level just aren't there for him.

There's no magic wand in this game and the manager can never be expected to work miracles - no matter who he is.

The current Cork team won't win anything and they need new blood coming through and guys who can raise the standard.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy is working with what he's got and although the margins are very small at the top level, a big shake-up is needed in Cork if they are to get back to where they should be.

Joe Canning had a quiet game by his standards but we again saw how Galway aren't as reliant on their main man any more.

The half-back line and the midfield were supplying the forward line with quick ball and they thrived on that.

Galway have a lot of players who are excellent under the high ball; Jonathan Glynn, Canning and Jason Flynn asked questions of the Cork defence who weren't near as physical.

Galway will take a lot of confidence from how they went about dismantling Cork and particularly how they cancelled out their sweeper system

The public will get behind Galway again but they won't be afraid of playing Tipperary. They were six points up on them at one stage last year but couldn't get the job done. I think they'll have learned from that.

There's huge competition for places in the starting team now and Anthony Cunningham will have a headache picking his team the next day.

Players are chomping at the bit to get into the side and that's the way Cunningham will want it.

It drives the standards in training up and you can be sure that the intensity will be massive in those sessions over the next couple of weeks.

The Galway supporters demand a lot of their team and the way they handled the favourites' tag yesterday was very impressive.

The idea that Galway can't win in Thurles is a myth and yesterday it was well and truly busted. The momentum is back with them - it's up to them to build on that now.

A word on the Galway minors who are thriving under new management. Limerick were hot favourites yesterday and although most of Galway's players are under the age of 17 and seen as next year's team, they put in a tremendous display.

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