The Cork footballers must be “streetwise” and “patient” during Saturday’s must-win Super 8 tie against Tyrone, a fixture which selector Sean Hayes has described as the “game of our lives”.
Having returned to a counter-attacking approach in the wake of their disappointing Ulster championship exit, Mickey Harte’s men conceded a combined tally of just 0-20 in their last two outings. Roscommon boss Anthony Cunningham, following their defeat to Tyrone last Saturday, remarked that “they have a hard system to break down, they are the best in the country at playing it”.
Cork selector Hayes said the Rebels must avoid bringing the ball into contact against last year’s beaten All-Ireland finalists as Tyrone thrive on turnovers in their own half of the field and then hitting teams on the counter.
“What Tyrone try and do is encourage you to come down the middle and then they hit very hard with 13 men around you. They do break very quickly, as well. You do have to have your whole system changed to take account of that and not be sucker-punched,” Hayes told Life FM.
You just can’t go into trouble with Tyrone because they will hurt you. You have to be very streetwise and patient, know when to go and go 100%. It is a different game to the Dublin game in certain ways, but the result is probably more important. It is winner takes all. It is the game of our lives next Saturday.
Hayes added: “If you look at our score of 1-17 against Dublin, our build-up play worked. I couldn’t fault the way we were patient last weekend. There were only one or two times when we kicked at the wrong time. Generally, we made the right decisions.
"It is more of that, really, but staying out of trouble is your main game against Tyrone. If the opposition has a packed defence, then, obviously, you have to have a bit more width about you.”
Reflecting on the 13-point loss to Dublin, Hayes felt referee David Gough could have blown for half-time before Michael Darragh Macauley bagged the Dubs’ second goal to put six between them at the break.
“We were unlucky with the goal because there were two minutes called. It was well over two minutes when they got the free out around midfield.
You’d be thinking the [referee] could have called it then, but he didn’t. With Tyrone and Roscommon to come, we must show the standards we showed against Dublin and get over the line.
Last night, Cork named their team to face Tyrone and midfielder Killian O’Hanlon, who missed the Dublin game because of a head injury, is back team. He replaces Paul Kerrigan, despite the latter kicking three points against Dublin. Sean Powter, having overcome his latest injury setback, is listed among the subs.
Cork will play their final Super 8 game at Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday, August 4 after the GAA yesterday confirmed the times and venues for the final round of games in the All-Ireland quarter-final series.
The laying of a new pitch at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, which commences next week, means the stadium is unavailable for the visit of Roscommon on the August Bank Holiday weekend.
The Cork-Roscommon and Tyrone-Dublin games, the latter goes ahead at Healy Park, Omagh, will throw-in at 4pm on the Sunday, with 6pm the start time for Meath-Kerry (Páirc Tailteann, Navan) and Mayo-Donegal (Elverys MacHale Park) on Saturday, August 3.
Elsewhere, Cork U20 midfielder Eanna O’Hanlon is a major doubt for tomorrow’s Munster U20 football decider against Kerry (Páirc Uí Rinn, 7.30pm). O’Hanlon injured his ankle with 10 minutes remaining in last Friday’s facile semi-final win over Waterford.
“We are giving him every chance, but he has picked up a serious ankle injury. Personally, I think he is very doubtful and is going to be really struggling to make the game,” said Cork U20 football manager Keith Ricken.
Full-forward Cathal O’Mahony was another to be withdrawn in the final quarter of their semi-final, but Ricken is confident the Mitchelstown youngster, who kicked 1-4 against Waterford, will be fit and right for the visit of Kerry.
CORK(SFC v Tyrone): M White; J Loughrey, T Clancy (Clonakilty), K Flahive; L O’Donovan, T Clancy (Fermoy), M Taylor; I Maguire, K O’Hanlon; K O’Driscoll, S White, R Deane; M Collins, B Hurley, L Connolly.
Subs: M Martin, K O’Donovan, S Cronin, S Powter, C Kiely, R O’Toole, E McSweeney, J O’Rourke, P Kerrigan, M Hurley, S Sherlock.