JBM’s young guns must keep their focus on clear and present danger
By Tony Considine
Given all the bad weather this week, I wonder are there a few nervous people in the GAA today about the three games in Thurles?
And it all kicks off with a football game which could end up ploughing what is always a fantastic pitch. It would have been far more sensible to play the Clare-Limerick game in either Ennis or the Gaelic Grounds, where they were guaranteed a big crowd.
In fact I’d go further, and state that all Clare-Limerick games should be on a home and away basis — what’s the need to bring all those supporters to Thurles? They’ll travel again today but this is a needless added expense being forced on them.
Starting with Cork and Wexford, this is a test for the Rebel County, have no doubt about that. But if there’s one team going to love being in Semple Stadium, it’s this Cork team.
They’re probably saying to themselves that had they taken their chances against Tipperary, they could have been in Thurles tomorrow, facing Waterford in a Munster final.
One of the main reasons they didn’t win that Munster semi-final was their inability to get a goal and that’s been Cork’s problem for a number of years. They have a lot of very similar players in their forwards. What they need is an Alan Browne or a Brian Corcoran at full-forward, someone who’ll dog it a bit and lay off a ball. Instead they’ve gone for all skill players, which is what you’d expect from someone like Jimmy Barry-Murphy.
But even the best of thoroughbreds can often appreciate an auld donkey beside them. Of course he needs to be able to hurl as well but his first duty would be to do the donkey work.
Cork showed the same weakness against Offaly but at least they won that game, and ran up a huge amount of points. They’re relying too much though on one man to do their scoring, Patrick Horgan, a fault that catches out a lot of teams.
People are telling me Cork are looking to the future with this team but maybe the future is now. Next year is a new year, a different year, and they should really be going after this year first.
Looking through that team, there are a few new faces but there are also a lot of guys who’ve been there for some time, and I’m sure neither Tom Kenny nor Brian Murphy is thinking of next year yet.
Cork have made a few changes from the Offaly game. I like the look of them. The DNA in Damien Cahalane is good, the new midfield pairing is strong, with Pa Cronin in his best position, but Niall McCarthy needs to become the old Niall McCarthy, strong and forceful.
To Wexford, and I’m sure they too are disappointed to be here. They were in control in their Leinster championship loss against Offaly early on but lost focus and started doing silly things. They left Billy Dooley run riot. Even at the end, when they had Offaly on the ropes, they suffered for lack of composure. Diarmuid ‘Gizzie’ Lyng missed a lot of scores and showed a bit of rust from his time away.
They had three dangerous inside forwards in Jack Guiney, Paul Morris and Rory Jacob, but couldn’t get enough ball to them.
I like the changes they’ve made, a better balance to them now, and Stephen Banville coming to the edge of the square is the Alan Browne-type figure I mentioned that Cork lack.
Wexford will have a big following with the footballers playing also, but I think Cork will have that bit much for them.
Clare versus Limerick is one we’re all looking forward to. A local derby and the fifth time they’ve met this year, with Limerick yet to win. There’s a lot more at stake now though than in any of the other games, including the league final.
Clare beat Dublin last Saturday when reduced to 14 men for almost the entire second half; I wonder, how much has that taken out of them? And remember, four of those who finished the game were only 19. I can see Clare making changes to that team, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Aaron Cunningham start on the opposite wing to Tony Kelly, and possibly Patrick O’Connor holding his position at corner-back.
I don’t trust the Limerick team as announced and find it hard to believe that Brian Geary will start at centre-forward again. That experiment has not worked and if they haven’t learned that by now, they’ve learned nothing. If Declan Hannon is fit, he can’t be left off this team, likewise Seamus Hickey.
This should be a hell of a contest. Limerick have massive motivation. They’ve really worked on their fitness. They were caught late against Clare in the league final, caught late again against Tipp in the Munster championship. I believe they’re flying now and won’t be caught again.
Calling it is difficult but I just feel Limerick will be that bit fresher. They have that extra motivation not to lose to Clare for a fourth time this year. I’m going for a Limerick win.
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