Déise could crack if Cork can force the issue
By Donal O’Grady
Cork manager JimmyBarry Murphy needs a simple plan against Waterford.
Starting with the attack, Cork need to play as they did in the first quarter in the recent loss to Tipperary. The forwards, particularly the inside line, brought an intensity to the game far above that on show in the league. They closed down defenders quickly and forced them into conceding possession or to hurry their clearances.
The Rebels need this forceful play up front from beginning to end, continually in the faces of Waterford’s full-back line, forcing mistakes and the concession of frees.
Cork’s fitness programme began early last winter and should ensure the team is capable of playing to this level of intensity for a full 70-75 minutes.
Waterford’s corner-back Stephen Daniels is more at home at half-back while colleague Noel Connors was out for a long period through injury. Cork’s plan should attempt to create space, isolating, pressurising and turning these two defenders. When defenders tire, they make mistakes, and goal chances arise.
The other part of the plan must minimise the influence of Waterford centre-back Michael Walsh and Kevin Moran beside him at seven.
These are two highly influential players and long aimless ball out of defence by Cork will play straight into their hands.
Deliveries from Cork’s defence, especially the full-back line, will have to be directed and accurate as these two are very effective at protecting their full backs by cutting off the supply.
Cork’s half-backs should feed the half-forwards with accurate ball and place them in positions to find their inside men while Daniel Kearney should replicate his club role, running from midfield and setting up scores as often as possible.
Much depends on the type of ball the Rebel full-forwards receive and how productive they are when they get it. Up to this juncture, Cork’s point-taking has been impressive but probing for goals needs to become an integral part of Cork’s game. If an opportunity arrives, Cork’s inside line need to take on defenders with direct hard running, a part of their game that has suffered up to now.
Another area Cork will look to exploiting is the Déise right half-back, veteran defender Tony Browne. He is vulnerable if isolated and Tipp profited in this area in the Munster final.
Waterford manager Michael Ryan must plan to keep John Mullane and Shane Walsh in the inside forward line as these are his two most potent strikers. Seamus Prendergast is the go-to man for puckouts and the main ball winner in the half-forward line.
If I was Michael Ryan, I’d play the two wing-forwards, Pauric Mahony and Maurice Shanahan, wide and deep in midfield. These two and Stephen Molumphy could break from midfield, feeding off Prendergast’s possession and link with the inside line.
With four virtually across the middle, Waterford’s defence generally would have extra protection frustrating the Cork attack. At the other end Cork’s defence would be pulled about unable to play in their conventional positions and they haven’t coped well with this tactic so far.
But the bottom line is about Mullane. Maintaining a fruitful supply line to the ace attacker inside is crucial to Waterford’s chances while obstructing the supply and limiting his influence should be Cork’s main priority.
Meanwhile, Limerick are reported to be in a very confident mood for their clash with Kilkenny. If you want to beat Kilkenny rather than just do well against them, the lead-up play to Niall Burke’s first point for Galway recently is required viewing. Galway moved the ball short and forced the Kilkenny defence to man mark, setting the tone for the full game, whereas they previously played as a covering defensive unit dealing in the main with long ball.
If Limerick really believe they can win, then following the Galway tactics, a team they played last Sunday, should be the plan for manager John Allen. If ball is merely struck upfield under pressure, hoping for the best, it will provide their experienced opponents with a platform to put the squeeze on Limerick’s defence.
Clever use of possession by the Shannonsiders and ball retention is crucial for their success. Brian Cody, Kilkenny’s manager, will hope to use this game to get back on track after the manner of the loss to Galway. His plan should consist of two main elements: putting their experienced half-forwards in possession and getting them to run at their direct opponents and being highly disciplined in defence, as many of Limerick’s points come from placed balls.
Cody will want to build up a lead in the first half and then do just enough, finishing unimpressively, hoping to cast the favourites mantle onto their opponents in the semi-final.Home