DENIS HURLEY’S advice to Cork football management is simple: pick your best forwards
WITH better defending and more on the line, Division 1 of the Allianz FL tends to provide the lowest average scoring.
After 16 games in the top flight, there has been an average of 28.44 points per match, the only one of the four sections to have a figure lower than 30.
In Division 2 (and Division 3, coincidentally), there has been a total of 494 points scored since the current league campaign began, giving an average of 30.88. Cork’s scoring and concession averages are both lower than half that, but unfortunately the ‘for’ is outweighed by the ‘against’ – 12.75 on target per game contrasted with 14.25 allowed.
Leaving aside Division 1, only Limerick in Division 3 and Longford and Antrim in Division 4 have troubled the umpires’ flags less than Cork.
Cork have had 16 scorers for the four games – though of course it is unfair to say that it works out at as ‘just’ four scorers per game as one would be expecting the same names to appear rather than being rotated.
What may be more worrying is that only Nemo Rangers pair Paul Kerrigan and Luke Connolly have been on target in each of the four matches, and each of them has scored just once in three games.
Of the 16 to get on the board, only six have managed multiple scores in a game – Kerrigan (0-4 against Fermanagh), Connolly (1-3 against Kildare), Colm O’Neill (0-5 against Galway), Niall Coakley (1-4 against Fermanagh, 0-2 against Clare), Mark Collins (0-2 against Galway) and Brian O’Driscoll (0-2 against Fermanagh).
Michael Shields, Dónal Óg Hodnett, Donncha O’Connor and Ruairí Deane are the players to have scored a point each. The tally of three goals in four goals is also a cause for concern, with Kerrigan (Galway), Connolly (Kildare) and Coakley (Fermanagh) to find the net, while O’Neill did miss a penalty against Clare. It’s straight out of Coaching 101, but getting more goals and points, and sharing them out among a greater number of players, is a requirement for the next three games as Cork’s Division 2 status hangs in the balance.
The best way to achieve that, is to have the most potent players on the field, though of course Brian Hurley’s nasty injury means that that is one option gone from Cork, perhaps for the rest of the season. Having started against Galway and Kildare, Ballyclough’s O’Neill has only been used from the bench in the last two games, as has Castlehaven man Collins. By almost any objective measurement, they are among Cork’s six best forwards, and while rotation is normal during the league, not starting two games in a row would point towards something more permanent.
Peter Kelleher, so impressive last year, has only appeared off the bench against Fermanagh this year, which would appear to be denying Cork another important option.
With Kerrigan and Collins providing and three from O’Neill, Kelleher, Coakley and Connolly benefiting from that service, there would even be space left over for a groundhog, ball-winning wing-forward who could assist the defence. See? Management is easy, really.