1 Score more than Tipperary: Sounds simple but if they don’t, they will lose the game and the truth is, if Cork produce a repeat of their scoring in the semi-final, against Kerry, they will almost certainly lose this game. Ten points won’t win a Munster final, the last time it happened being 1967, when Cork beat Kerry by 0-8 to 0-7 in atrocious conditions in the old Athletic Grounds in Cork. Cork need to be patient to work chances but they need to create a lot more chances than they did in the semi-final. And when the chances present themselves, they must be clinical and accurate, especially when it comes to scoring vital goals.
2 Limit the dangerous Tipp forwards: In full forward, Conor Sweeney, Tipp have a class player and he has kicked 1-11 (7f) in two games. This will be another severe test for Cork rookie full back, Maurice Shanley. Sweeney has plenty scoring assistants in Bill Maher, Jack Kennedy (lethal from frees), Michael Quinlan and Liam Casey. They have a goal-scoring threat and have scored three goals in their two games to date. It will be interesting to see how Cork will set up in defence and how they will use Seán Powter.
3 Cut back on the possession football: Cork completely over-did the short, passing, possession football against Kerry, criss-crossing the pitch repeatedly. However, it was necessary on the day to keep the ball away from the dangerous Kerry forwards and to prize open the Kerry defensive set-up. Had Cork lost, the management would have been roundly criticized for their safety-first approach. Keane’s winning goal tainted our view of the game overall. Supporters will expect Cork to be much more direct and to give much quicker ball and better support to Brian Hurley inside.
4 One forward to step up and shoot the lights out: While a well-balanced forward line / midfield is commendable with all the players capable of getting their names on the score sheet, every great team possesses a forward who is capable of shooting the lights out on any given day. Daniel Goulding and Colm O’Neill were two such forwards, along with Donncha O’Connor, but they have never really been replaced. Brian Hurley has the potential but in recent years has failed to turn copious possession into scores, while Luke Connolly also has the talent but is too erratic from game to game. We still don’t know why he wasn’t started against Kerry and Cork won’t win this final without the Nemo ace being on top of his scoring game. Mark Collins, nearer goal, could emerge top scorer on the day but Cork will need at least three players scoring more than three or four points each. Ruairí Deane, John O’Rourke, Mark Keane, Michael Hurley, Paul Kerrigan, Ian Maguire, Ken O’Halloran, Kevin O’Driscoll, Colm O’Callaghan, Sean White and wingbacks, Seán Meehan and Mattie Taylor, if they all see game time, must target getting on the score sheet in this final.
5 Produce the same work rate that downed Kerry: Cork really wanted to beat the Kingdom and it showed in their work rate, which was outstanding. Some call it spirit and heart but the bottom line is work rate. Cork have to tear into this game from the start, show the same fierce hunger they did in the semi-final and keep it going right through. Tipp have made a habit of snatching victory in the late stages of games and Cork must be aware of this and be prepared to match it. Allied to the work rate is the belief that they can really win this final, just like they really believed, against all the odds and predictions, that they could beat Kerry. If there is any hint of complacency, any notion of getting a soft win, Cork can wave goodbye to this marvellous chance of getting to the All-Ireland semi-final. The real Cork football supporters deserve the best in this unexpected final. The hard lifting was done against Kerry, it would be a disaster not to complete the job this Sunday.