Editor’s note: John Mullane is the brand ambassador for JJ Kavanagh & Sons and will be bringing his thoughts on the 2017 Hurling championship. In John’s latest post, he takes a closer look at The Munster Hurling clash where Cork bet Tipperary by four points.
Cork beat the All Ireland Champions by four points yesterday, did you ever see this coming John?
After the League Final, there was always a massive chance that Tipp’s frailties could be exposed again. Cork have been due a good performance but I still felt that Tipp would get over the line after a struggle. I felt Tipp were going to win but didn’t see it as ever being easy. Cork showed great character and drive to push on when it was in the melting pot yesterday. Cork were well deserving winners.
It was a very open game and some great scores by the Cork forwards. Do you think Tipperary backs were up to scratch? Should Michael Ryan made changes any sooner?
I think Michael Ryan will be very worried for his defence as his six backs could not get up to the speed of the game to defend against the Cork forwards.
Losing Michael Cahill and Donagh Maher to injuries really limited Tipperary in defence. There was an opportunity to change it up and go with the new panel member Tom Fox, who was on the U21 team last year. I think going forward they will have to look at him in the championship as a possible contender for one of the corner back positions.
Who do you think individually played well?
I was really impressed with all the Cork youngters as I feel they all really excelled to reach the level that they got too but if I had to narrow it down to 3, it would be 1) Conor Lehane who seems to be improving in that number 11 role where he’s more involved in the game compared to his usual half forward spot. 2) Mark Coleman carried his outstanding league form into the championship and had an excellent debut appearance at number 7. 3) Colm Spillane who did a fine job at keeping John McGrath quiet in the full forward line.
Conor Lehane scored 10 points in the game. Do you think he is player to watch?
At stages I watched him in the league and was very impressed with him because that no 11 role allows him to be involved in the game more. I always felt that playing him on the wing he could wander in and out of the game which did not help Cork. He has the speed, skill and ability required to play that no 11. role. He will be very important to Cork this Summer without a doubt. He will be a player that an any opposition centre back will have to keep a close eye on!
Cork now go on to play Waterford in the Munster Semi Final clash. Do you think that Cork can keep their form up or was this a once off?
That’s the big question that only this Cork team can answer. We’ve seen in the past that on their day Cork are capable of beating anyone but the big thing for Cork is can they follow it up with back to back victories. I think its going to be a totally different game against Waterford as they wont be afforded the space they got yesterday.
Tipperary now go into the back door. Where do you think they can improve on? Do you think they will get out of the back door?
Tipperary will have time to reflect and get things right for the next day out. Michael Ryan will be anxious to tighten up his defence. The huge amount conceded from play in yesterdays game will really worry him and it will be a challenging few weeks for both players and Michael Ryan. What the back door does is that it makes the rest of the provincial games more important as the other teams do not want to be meeting Tipp. The Munster Championship has been crying out for a game like this and it has really opened up the entire championship both provincial and All-Ireland. It’s the kickstart to the championship that we needed for an exciting summer.