Monday 22 January 2018

Cyril Farrell: Getting monkey off their backs leaves Rebels set for summer to remember

Cork's Lorcan McLoughlin and Limerick's David Breen keep their eyes on the sliotar as it drops during the Munster SHC final at Pairc Uí Chaoimh. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Cork's Lorcan McLoughlin and Limerick's David Breen keep their eyes on the sliotar as it drops during the Munster SHC final at Pairc Uí Chaoimh. Photo: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Cyril Farrell

Limerick set the tone early on and Cork struggled to get to grips with the pace of their play, but I always felt that it would be difficult for them to keep up that kind of tempo.

Once Cork started to ease themselves into the game, they looked very impressive. Conor Lehane and Alan Cadogan fired over a couple of lovely scores and you could see the lift that gave the crowd and the players.

The teams were all square at the break, but there's no doubt that Cork were the happier of the two teams. They used far less energy and they knew that they had much more left in the tank as opposed to Limerick's going full tilt.

It's amazing to think that Anthony Nash didn't have a single save to make all game. Despite Limerick having plenty of possession, they never tested Nash and that will be hugely frustrating for TJ Ryan.

Shane Dowling looked dangerous under the high ball and his battle with Shane O'Neill was one of the highlights of the game. He was immaculate from the dead ball, but Limerick would have wanted him threatening to score goals.

You'd have to credit Cork's defenders though – they handled a dangerous Limerick forward line very well. Their half-back line was key.

They really got on top of Limerick and, from there, they were able to build decent attacking platforms. Cork were quicker up front and, when they turned over the ball, they were immediately on the move and causing problems.

Limerick shouldn't be too down hearted after the defeat. Cork are a good side and the Treaty won't fear anyone in the quarter-final.

For Cork, this is a huge win for them. It's their first title in eight years and it's a monkey that they have been trying to get off their backs for a few years. Now that they have done that, they'll go forward with huge confidence.

They'll go into the All-Ireland semi-final as winners, which will make them even more focused. There seems to be a great understanding between the players now and they're really starting to gel.

With the likes of Paudie O'Sullivan and William Egan to come off the bench, it shows the strength that Jimmy Barry-Murphy has at his disposal. Neither player in any way weakens that Cork side.

Cork have five new faces from last year's team and it's important to remember that. They've all integrated well into the team and, yesterday, we saw the rewards of that.

The only downside to the win was the injury to Pa Cronin. He appears to have cracked a bone in his leg and, if he was to face a spell on the sidelines, it would be a massive blow. But thankfully for Cork, he has a few weeks to recover from that.

It's always a big ask to go and play in someone else's backyard and that was the case for Limerick. Cork showed signs of nerves early on, but home advantage is always worth a few points and that certainly helped them to the title.

Elsewhere, Saturday's replay in Wexford was just unreal. You'd have thought it was impossible to better last week's epic in Ennis, but it did.

It was a great day for Wexford hurling. They've worked very hard to get back to here and they fully deserve to enjoy this victory, but they need to build on that now.

Clare need to have a long hard look at their disciplinary issues. Three players sent-off in two games doesn't look good whatever way you look at it. Clare aren't always going to be able to pull results out of the bag against the odds and that caught up with them on Saturday.

I thought Jack Browne's first yellow card was harsh, but knowing he had already been cautioned, he should never have made that challenge on McGovern.

Jack Guiney had some impact when he came on. His free taking was excellent, but it was his 40-yard pinged pass in the build up to the second goal that really stood out for me. His vision was incredible, but his execution was even better. He is a certain star of the future.

Tipperary were no match for Offaly and they will really fancy themselves against Dublin given that they have all the momentum behind them. The Dubs have a point to prove, but they'll find it difficult to halt Tipp's progress.

Offaly need to look at what Wexford are doing. They went back to basics, built from the bottom up and are now reaping the rewards. Offaly don't need people criticising them, but, rather, encouragement and hard workers.

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