IF anybody had offered the Cork fans a win and a draw in last weekend’s two big matches, they would have snapped up the offer.
While few rated the footballers’ chances on Saturday night, a lot of Cork fans were also expecting a backlash from Tipp hurlers that Cork would not be able to handle.
Very few saw the football result coming. Yes, we were slightly hopeful that Cork might produce one of their good days and give a fancied Tipperary a close run for their money. Nobody expected to find Tipperary so poor on the day. Cork took control of this game from the word go, playing fast direct football and with Luke Connolly producing the goods up front, it was all Cork.
It’s amazing how similar the footballers and hurlers are becoming. When the hurlers play at pace, as they did in the first half on Sunday, they are more than a match for the best and the footballers are exactly the same.
Modern football and hurling is all about pace and Cork have it in spades right now. The footballers may lack inches and are not the most physical team in the country but sheer pace makes up for that. Pace not only means speed in running but speed in moving the ball and when the footballers move the ball fast, they definitely have potential.
They now also possess two big, strong mobile men in the middle of the pitch in Ian Maguire and Aidan Walsh, and if Walsh can stay clear of injuries, then it will be a huge boost.
Speaking of injuries, there was good news when it filtered through that Colm O’Neill’s injury is not a serious one again. He has gone through more than his share of pain for the Cork cause and deserves a bit of luck. Besides which, he showed with his goal on Saturday that he is still a supreme poacher near goal.
Cork fans were also delighted to see Brian Hurley making his re-appearance on the team and walking off unscathed at the end after making a big impression.
Maybe things are beginning to fall into place just at the right time for the footballers but we won’t get carried away after one good win. After all, it’s the team’s inconsistency that worries us most and what are the odds on them turning in two good performances in a row, something that proved beyond them in the league?
Cork’s football victory was not only important for the development of this new team but puts them within touching distance of the Super 8 and that’s where the real development of this team could take place, against the best teams in the country.
The win also guarantees a proper football baptism for the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh, that is if Kerry manage to beat Clare. Cork v Kerry in the new stadium is what we all wanted and hopefully, the Cork football supporters, or what’s left of them, will turn up in their thousands for that historic game in three weeks’ time. We all remember the first Munster football final in the new Páirc in 1976 and especially the controversial replay which launched the new Kerry team and ended Cork’s status in Munster. Anything near as good would be a huge boost to football in Munster.
By the time the Munster football final comes around Cork hurlers will know their fate. They should have guaranteed their place as a qualifier on Sunday following a first-half of hurling that left Tipp for dead – before the Premier County bounced back to salvage a draw.
This was a point dropped by the hurlers and it has allowed Tipp back into the championship, something we may well live to regret.
Now the game against Limerick on Saturday takes on extra pressure and with the team playing their third weekend in a row, there’s bound to be some mental and physical tiredness. This could prove costly against a young, lively Limerick side that had a rest last weekend.
Slán go Fóill