Posted by Ciarán Whelan
Monday 9 July 2012
Sunday’s Munster final went as most people had anticipated but it was disappointing final played in front of a very small turnout.
It was two teams at very different levels. One of them has designs on winning an All-Ireland title where the other one is just looking to climb the ladder a small bit.
For a provincial final, in terms of the atmosphere and the small crowd that turned up, it lacked any real bite. I would certainly agree with what was said by the Sunday Game panellists last night. It should have been part of a double header with the hurlers and it doesn’t make sense that it was played on its own. The GAA should have had some foresight to pair it up with the Clare-Dublin game.
I think that Clare will take something from the game. They had enough possession and missed chances that they should have taken. The scoreline didn’t fully reflect the way the game went and, as much as the fact that Cork didn’t really get out of third gear, it was a gallant effort.
Clare did show up some flaws in the Cork makeup, particularly in their half-back line where I felt they were a bit lacklustre. They gave their opponents a lot of time on the ball and that won’t be good enough against the bigger teams.
The underdogs had good performers right throughout the field. I thought Gary Brennan was fantastic at midfield and drove his team on from there. Michael O’Shea in the corner kicked four points but David Tubridy didn’t have the best day out. There were a lot of expectations on his shoulders and he missed a few chances.
From a Cork perspective, they didn’t have to up it too much at all, especially once they got the early goals. Nicholas Murphy does offer them a different dimension inside and Cork were able to use different combinations with such a tall man in the full-forward line. They ran directly at Clare and used long, angled balls to create scoring opportunities.
Ciaran Sheehan had a very good game as did Paul Kerrigan who used his pace well even if his end product wasn’t always as good as it could have been. As well as having those good performances from the likes of Colm O’Neill they were able to empty their bench and give a run-out to Daniel Goulding but, having said that, I’m not too sure if they’ll take much from the game.
They are the Munster champions but they have had very little game time under the belt. I still rate them as a serious team with strength in depth and they’re trying to develop the way they play so that they have more options.
They’re lucky they have such a large panel so their A versus B games would be very competitive. With only two games played in the few months until the All-Ireland quarter-final, what they do on the training ground is very important. Their training games will probably test them more than Sunday did and will have far more intensity to them.
The fact that they are at such a good level means they can get some quality work done on the training pitch. We saw last year with Dublin there was a lot of emphasis placed on the intensity of the work they had done in training and Cork will need to do the same over the next few weeks in preparation for the last-eight clash.
Conor Counihan will have seen the weaknesses in the side. Clare had more possession than them and had three or four goal chances that they could have taken. Cork’s defence was opened up easily at times and some of their play won’t be good enough against the bigger teams.
TIPPERARY MINORS WON the All-Ireland last year and had a great victory over Kerry on Sunday. People will have to be patient with them, though, because it will take time to follow it up with senior success.
You can’t expect guys to step up to that level straight away. You look at Michael Quinlivan who was very good last year and he got great experience playing against Kerry in the first round of the championship. Next year he’ll probably be twice the player at senior level but patience is key.
They did put it up to Kerry to a certain degree in that game and they are a progressive county. It’s only going to be a matter of time before they make a breakthrough. Still, you can’t expect overnight success just because you’ve had a couple of fruitful years at underage level.
It’s about integrating these guys into the senior setup so the next couple of years are very important for this current crop of young players. They’ll have to get used to conditioning programs and a more professional setup.
But it won’t happen easily. We’ve seen it in the past with Westmeath who were very successful at minor and under-21 level. They did push on to win a provincial title but they probably didn’t get as much out of it as they should have had. Tipperary need to have the right manager in charge and the right structures in place to ensure these young players can flourish at senior level. And, most of all, people need to be patient with them.
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