There will be shouts for a clearout, but I don’t see drastic change in Cork

Next year’s junior cycle well-being course will include a unit of learning titled ‘Is Everybody Going Well’.

There will be shouts for a clearout, but I don’t see drastic change in Cork

Next year’s junior cycle well-being course will include a unit of learning titled ‘Is Everybody Going Well’. The module is the brainchild of the brilliant Pat Daly. Having attended a two-hour meeting on Monday last I was riveted by the thought, creativity and innovation at the heart of the project. Most of all, I was struck by the sincerity and genuineness of the motive behind its inception.

Having listened intently to Paudie Butler, George O’Connor, Jim Ryan, Eoin Morrissey, and Niall Austin share their passion and knowledge for the said topic, it framed my outlook for the rest of the week.

This perspective was enhanced when Pat forwarded an interesting article by Professor Tania Cassidy and Ryan Rosevear from the University of Otago concerning New Zealand Rugby.

Their study deduced that “principles such as honesty and sportspersonship are not often emphasised in elite team sports because they do not win matches”. It accepted there is an emphasis on the development of the person and on some “moral values such as compassion, integrity and being a role model” but the study concluded that “these are not often correlated to performance but stress an importance on developing the person”.

Watching Laois’ performances yesterday and all year, observing the tangible, and feeling the intangible connection between supporters and team, I may have stumbled on the lesson plans for my first well-being module at the beginning of September.

The module “Who am I” was clear for all to see yesterday. The ruthless pursuit of Liam MacCarthy has driven us all to obsessive behavioural patterns over periods. Sometimes we lose sight of what really matters. The class and authenticity of the Tipperary sportsmanship yesterday was matched only by the genuine integrity and character of the Laois people.

Nothing patronising here. Just real people.


A six-team Leinster has gotten some traction and its hard to disagree with genuine hurling men like Joe Quaid, Colm Bonnar and Eddie Brennan that put forward their arguments, not just for the sake of themselves but for hurling. Bonnar referenced the possible application of the ‘learnings’ from this year.

In fairness to the GAA authorities, the 2020 league, albeit imbalanced in terms of how the groups materialised, should allow for the integration of Laois, Westmeath and Carlow into more consistent higher level exposure.

As well as being an advocate of the six-team league for Leinster, another more radical and perhaps ‘selfish’ proposal from a Waterford perspective would see the best eight teams qualify for a newly arranged quarter-final weekend each year.

Hurling podcast: The Cork inquest: no excuses this time. Cody the firefighter. Tipp try gegenpressing

With the existing five-team groups, the top three would qualify as normal with the bottom two teams from Munster going in with one of the McDonagh Cup finalists and the same with the bottom two from Leinster forming a group with the other finalist from the Joe McDonagh. Don’t worry, I hear the “it’ll only suit the stronger teams’ theory and I acknowledge the ‘where will we find the two extra weeks’ concern.

If you take this year’s Munster Championship, the top three would be Tipperary, Limerick and Cork. Waterford and Clare would go into a round-robin group of three with Westmeath with Westmeath having two home games. The top team from the round-robin would then return to the championship as the fourth quarter-finalist. This scenario would see a cross-over of quarter finals with the top team playing fourth etc. I’ll leave the scheduling to yourself.


Whilst most will point to the need for a clearout in Cork I am not so sure. My guess is that their forward line next year will still comprise six from Harnedy, Horgan, Cadogan, Fitzgibbon, Kingston, Kearney, Meade, O’Flynn, Walsh and a hopefully rejuvenated Lehane.

The league will see Turnbull, O’Connell, Connery and Shane O’Regan provide youthful exuberance, and crucially in O’Regan’s case, difference. But ultimately I find it hard to envisage drastic change.

Kingston’s case is a particularly interesting one. Whilst cognisant of the need for impact from the bench, having observed Shane at close quarters during the Fitzgibbon Cup campaign, where both his confidence and hurling prospered, I felt the mid-season boost of five points from play against Westmeath last week might act as a catalyst for a major performance as a starter.

What might be worth considering from a Cork viewpoint is a possible reconfiguration of their team. Could Bill Cooper provide steel and solidity to a half-back line? Is there an argument to be made that matched with like for like in terms of aerial ability, Daniel Kearney could score as much and bring the Duracell bunny role to wing-back, particularly nowadays where numbers mean nothing.

Similarly, would Damien Cahalane provide aggression, athleticism and pace going forward from wing-back, allowing Coleman to either hurl from a sitting six position or as a holding midfielder? Add a fully fit Colm Spillane and continue the acceleration of Niall O’Leary and things are not as doom-laden as one might think. Plenty of time to ponder.


While many have commented, and rightly so, on the relentless spirit of the Kilkenny players, it often disguises the quality that they have. Yes, as has been said often they are not, and may never be, in the category of the great team of the noughties. But these lads still have serious pedigree and ability.

In last year’s quarter-final loss to Limerick, they were shorn of Walter Walsh and denied a blatant free on John Donnelly. Now there is a chance for redemption in a role they relish

— as the hunter. Donnelly, Tj, Mullen, Walter, Fennelly and Hogan — now they have their most potent front six ready to purr.

Tipperay didn’t quite purr as they would have wished on Sunday last but I don’t buy the general opinion that they are struggling. An over-indulgence in trying to create goalscoring chances early on dissipated and plenty of learnings will be taken by Liam.

One of the more interesting aspects of their approach was the freeing of Brendan as opposed to Pádraic Maher to sweep. Was it a case of a man being freed up who had been involved in so many man-marking roles thus far in the championship? Was Brendan just given a chance to hurl? Or was it with a view to Wexford’s system? The gut tells me that Pádraic will be back sweeping against the Model County with Brendan going toe to toe with Lee Chin.

Davy’s study will focus on the league meeting between the two counties in Thurles in 2018. A quick review of the match will show the creation of at least five goalscoring chances.


Speaking of goalscoring chances, a thing of beauty was created in Walsh Park on Saturday. Just before half-time in the camogie championship match between Clare and Waterford, Sarah Lacey gathered possession 20 yards from goal. Looking like she was bottled up she showed real composure to swivel and reassess before offloading to Orla Hickey. Hickey dipped the shoulder and popped a peach of a pass to Beth Carton who finished brilliantly. A well-drilled, highly organised, Waterford team were hugely impressive and will look forward to taking on All-Ireland champions Cork on Saturday next.


Who would be an All-Star selector? Having arrived at the semi-final stage, can we take it that TJ Reid, Seamie Callanan, and Patrick Horgan are absolute certainties for three of the six forward spots? Would Alan Cadogan be frightfully unlucky to lose out at 13 if Gillane underperforms between here and whenever Limerick exit.

Ifs ,buts and maybes I suppose. I would imagine that Horgan’s odds for Hurler of the Year have drifted out. His seven goals and 62 points over six matches, with 34 points coming from play, is truly remarkable.

While wide of the mark with an earlier look in the crystal ball, what if Tipperary beat Wexford with a second-half push, but in the process Seamie Callanan is reasonably well held by a combination of Kevin Foley sweeping and Liam Ryan and or Matthew O’Hanlon marking. What if Limerick find a way of both holding TJ and winning like Kilkenny with the emphasis on the collective.

Could Horgan buck the trend and become the first winner of Hurler of the Year to exit the championship at the quarter-final stage? Probably not but you would never know.

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