'Kilkenny will bring it into a dogfight' - JJ Delaney believes Cats ready to frustrate Cork
JJ Delaney scans the Cork forward unit and suddenly their 40-point haul from last weekend makes sense. For Kilkenny to prevail in Sunday's All-Ireland SHC quarter-final clash, Delaney believes the Cats will have to turn the game into a dogfight.
"On paper, their front six they are frightening when you look at the talent they have," says Delaney, who reckons Sunday will see a culture clash in terms of what type of game the sides want to play. Cork will look to keep it as open and free-flowing as possible. Kilkenny and Brian Cody will want an earthier affair.
"It's always special when Kilkenny play Cork. There is going to be a great atmosphere there, Cork will come up expecting to beat Kilkenny. Even the worst Cork team coming up to Croke Park will always expect to beat Kilkenny, that's just the way they are down there!" he laughs.
Contain "It is going to be a great battle; they scored 40 points last week. If you can contain them from scoring goals well they are not going to get 40 points next weekend so if you can stop the goals you have a fair chance of shutting down the forward line."
And if Kilkenny are planning to curtail Cork's forwards, then it's likely that one of the main topics of conversation this week in the Cork management meetings was TJ Reid and how to cope with him. The Ballyhale man has hit 5-54 for the Cats in the championship so far. His rookie team-mate Adrian Mullen is next on the list with 1-8.
"Put him in the majority of teams and he is going to carry that weight anyway. He doesn't shy away from responsibility and I like that about TJ, he doesn't need any other player to get him into the game. He can win his own ball and even if he is not winning it he can chase down players. That's the beauty of having a player like TJ is that he can get himself into the game.
"If I was a back and I see TJ, I'd try and play the ball into his area because it doesn't have to be a perfect ball either - he'll go and win it. He's not shying away from it, he's been doing it for the last couple of years; it's not a case that it's just the last couple of games, he has been doing it consistently for Kilkenny."
Delaney agrees that Kilkenny need more from the rest and he has a feeling they'll rise to the occasion.
"If they move around the Cork backs they have a very good chance. I think there'll be a performance out of the Kilkenny forwards too because recently they have been listening to talk about the over-reliance on TJ over the last few weeks so they'll probably stick their chest out and go for it .
"If they can get Eoin Cadogan out around the field and get a bit of space in that full-forward line too and cut down the space in their back line, they can win. But it will be about cutting down the space; if Cork get the space they'll make the ball talk because they are absolutely fabulous hurlers but if Kilkenny cut the space they can win. If Cork make it an open, expansive game then they could win it by seven or eight but Kilkenny will bring it into a dogfight."
The Throw-In will be broadcasting a special live show from the Hotel Kilkenny this Thursday, July 11 with JJ Delaney, Ger Cunningham and John Mullane. This is a free event but you must register your name in advance by going to: https://competitions.independent.ie/win-tickets-to-the-throw-in-live-in-association-with-bord-gais-energy.html