Tuesday 12 December 2017

Rebels with a cause need to grow claws

Kieran Kingston. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Kieran Kingston. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

What's going on with Cork's defensive systems?

The hurlers are facing a relegation play-off after being hit for an average of 2-23 and losing five games, while the footballers also have the highest give-away record in Division 1, leaking 9-78 (average 2-15), also in five games.

Despite finishing top of the table last year, the footballers had the second-highest concession rate. They later conceded 1-21 to Dublin (League final), 2-15 to Kerry (Munster final) and 1-21 to Kildare (qualifier).

Cork hurlers conceded an average total of 26 points in their last eight games of 2015, a figure that has increased by three points this season.

Cork scored more than Kilkenny, Waterford and Dublin, the top three in 1A this season, but with their defensive locks picked so easily, it was always going to be difficult to pick up points.

Failing to win a single game takes Cork into unusual territory that leaves new manager, Kieran Kingston facing a massive challenge.

It has been Cork's worst league for a long time and while they still have a chance of staying in 1A, the underlying issues are ominous. Even in 2008 and 2009 when player unrest led to walkovers (2008) and the fielding of weakened teams (2009) in the early rounds of the league, Cork recovered and won games in the competition.

This year, it was been defeats all the way. And while they were unlucky to lose to Kilkenny, the table doesn't lie as Cork lurk at the bottom with a give-away rate that is 31 points higher than Galway, who are next in line for leaky defences. Despite conceding so heavily, Cork footballers still have a chance of reaching the semi-finals.

Still, if Cork are to have a good summer in either code, they need to improve the security arrangements.

And quickly too.

Irish Independent

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