Saturday 24 February 2018

John Mullane: Time for Lar to front up and face down Tyrrell

Mullane on Monday

LAR Corbett needs to get Jackie Tyrrell out of his head once and for all. If I was Lar, I'd want to mark Jackie in Thurles next Sunday, when Kilkenny visit in the National League. This meeting gives him the chance to quickly put the issue to bed.

Tipp boss Eamon O'Shea has a choice – does he hold Lar on the bench and introduce him during the game or does he say to Lar: 'Look, we're going to get this out of the way now and not have it hanging over our heads. If it's dealt with straight away, it doesn't become an issue and a talking point during the summer'.

In his book, Lar spoke about being in Australia and coming up with the ill-fated plan that backfired in last year's All-Ireland semi-final. The plan is simple – he goes in and marks Jackie from the start. Brian Cody might be thinking that because it's the league, he'll put a different defender on Lar, but, if I was Lar, I'd head straight for Jackie's corner. Go in there, shake hands and say: 'Let's do this'.

Whoever wins the battle, wins the battle, but he can come off the pitch in the right mindset. And why not put Jackie in the uncomfortable position this time? Put Lar in at No 14, on the edge of the square, because I don't think Jackie is as comfortable at full-back as he is in the corner.

Tough

Think back to the 2011 All-Ireland final, when Lar's handpass placed Pa Bourke for a goal. Lar was at full-forward when he laid off the ball. In my dealings with Jackie, he was tough, one of the toughest I ever played against, but I don't think he's a dirty player. Still, if Lar feels that extra eyes are needed for the off-the-ball stuff, play him at 14 and if there's anything going on, there are two umpires to catch it.

Getting Lar back to the form he showed from 2009-11 is O'Shea's biggest task. There were signs of it against Cork nine days ago and throwing Lar into the thick of it was the best thing that O'Shea could have done. And he'll see Lar as a key player. Corbett has taken huge criticism but, hands up, who's never made a mistake?

I'd be nailed to the cross by now if I told you about all the mistakes that I've made. I'll be honest though, when the news broke that Lar was in New York not long before the All-Ireland club semi-finals, and then you had all the speculation about a possible Lotto win, I thought that Thurles Sarsfields could do without that type of unnecessary attention.

Believe it or not, I texted Ger 'Redser' O'Grady and urged him not to take Kilcormac-Killoughey for granted. There was only one lotto for Sars to win and that's the All-Ireland club final on St Patrick's Day.

That's why I texted 'Redser' – I could see what was about to unfold. I told him to have a small bit of a chat with Lar when he got back, to get his head on the game.

And I texted Lar, too, when he arrived home, telling him how big an opportunity it was for Sars, that they might never get that chance again. It's a long road back to an All-Ireland semi-final, as we know only too well in De La Salle.

Lar is not O'Shea's only challenge. I think he's really going to look at the areas where they got opened up last year, particularly the full-back line. Has Paul Curran got another year in the legs? It's a tough one for O'Shea and it wouldn't surprise me to see Paudie Maher at No 3 at some stage during the year.

Tipp's big defeat to Cork in the first round of the league surprised me – but it told me a couple of things. They're in the middle of heavy training and, from what I can gather, they have a hurl in their hands once a week. There's a lot of work to do, but, come the summer, you'll see a different Tipperary.

And, for O'Shea's sake, he'll need a different Lar Corbett.

Irish Independent

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