Diarmuid O'Sullivan has defended Cork against accusations of flakiness but criticised John Meyler's side for lacking commitment, hunger, or a plan B.
Irish Examiner columnist Anthony Daly described Cork as "the flakiest team in the country" after their six-point loss to Kilkenny, adding "you have to ask serious questions of the manliness of some of the players with the way in which some of them collapsed".
O'Sullivan, who was a selector under Kieran Kingston's management alongside Meyler in 2017, says Daly's assessment was "very harsh", preferring to call them "inconsistent" instead.
"To call Cork [flaky] is very unfair of him. If he looked back through the sides he played with, there was a lot of flaky lads in those Clare teams too," he said in his Paddy Power News column.
"It’s not an accurate description of that Cork team at all. ‘Inconsistent’ would be the word I would use about them.
"‘Flaky’ is a very strong accusation and I’d be disappointed with Daly, who knows what it takes to climb the steps of the Hogan Stand and collect Liam MacCarthy, for using that term about Cork. But he’s entitled to his opinion I suppose."
O'Sullivan says Cork lacked a back-up plan and "abandoned" their puck-out strategy in the second half when they went short.
"You can criticise Anthony Nash all you want for a few balls going astray, but this is a season-long problem. On Sunday though, when he went looking for guys who wanted the ball, there weren’t too many fellas willing to make that run."
He added: "Cody knows that this is not their greatest hurling squad, but they have a commitment and hunger about them. Unfortunately, the majority of the Cork hurling team turned up without it on Sunday.
"Conor Lehane hasn’t had his best season and he’d be the first man to admit that. But you could go through seven, eight or nine guys in various positions on that Cork team, with huge experience, who are in the same boat. It just hasn’t been a great year for them."
O'Sullivan says the decision over Meyler staying on for another year or not should rest with him: "There’s potentially a big influx of youth coming from the U20s and it’s up to John on whether he thinks he’s the right man to bring them in."
He says that winning the All-Ireland U20 title must become a major priority for Cork, as they face into a Munster final against Tipperary on next Tuesday.
"If they could get an All-Ireland under their belt, an influx of those U20 players would bring fierce value to a squad.
"You have the likes of James Keating, Sean O’Leary-Hayes, Craig Hanifin, Brian Turnbull, Shane O’Regan, Daire Connery, and the Roches from Bride Rovers – they’re the guys who could take Cork in a new direction.
"If that means some of Cork’s mainstays and top performers are going to come under pressure, then so be it because that’s the nature of intercounty hurling.
"No other county is afraid to embrace that change, so why are we?"
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