Mark Landers bemoaned the old Cork failings that cost the Rebels in Sunday’s league defeat by Waterford.
The All-Ireland winning captain was baffled by the reluctance to send direct balls into a dangerous forward line.
Speaking with Anthony Daly on the Irish Examiner GAA Podcast, Landers said: “The one thing that struck me Sunday — and I haven’t seen it in a while — is that when a Cork defender got the ball, he was looking lateral with a pass instead of forward.
“Now to me, the best asset we have is our forwards, and if we’re going to win anything we have to outscore the opposition.
"But looking lateral, and inviting the other team to intercept the ball — Cork got turned over a number of times Sunday.
“The lateral hurling was disappointing for me and on occasion, fellas are not fighting enough for the ball and we have a number of forwards who are not fighting enough for the ball.
“Seamus Harnedy is a target, Darragh Fitzgibbon is a target, and Aidan Walsh is a target — you couldn’t have the better fellas under the high ball.
"So I don’t know if they are trying to mix it up. But this slow build-up play from the back, with lateral passes, it doesn’t help the likes of Alan Cadogan, Patrick Horgan, Conor Lehane.”
Cadogan admitted recently Cork’s forwards must up their work rate to match teams like Kilkenny and Limerick in particular.
Landers feels they came up short again in that department against the Déise, despite early goals from Conor Lehane and Shane Kingston.
“I couldn’t believe that even after the start Cork got, the old failings started to come back — the lack of fight, the lack of hunger, the desire to win the ball.
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“There’s a word called consistency, and that’s the biggest problem with Cork I see at the moment.
"They could go to Limerick last year and get a victory in the championship after being turned over by Tipp.
"They were horrible one weekend, Mark Ellis was sitting up in the stand, and next he’s centre-back and they produce a performance like that against Limerick and blew them away.
“That’s the biggest issue, a lack of consistency. And that’s running throughout the team.
"Yeah, we can look at the forwards — and you have the likes of Harnedy who is a tough, consistent forward — but I think the overriding thing is they lack that little bit of composure and desire.”
Landers was impressed with the performance of Cork forward Aidan Walsh in the first half and didn’t agree with his substitution after 15 minutes of the second period.
“We played Aidan Walsh in the half-forward line, and I thought he had a magnificent opening 20 minutes. I thought he had a new lease of life.
"And then he missed one ball over the far side of the field, he missed the pick and he was the first fella to get the call.
"And I thought it was hard on him because his overall play was pretty good.
“But give honourable mention to Shane Kingston — I’m delighted to see him back playing really well Sunday.
I thought he took the fight, not alone the scores, I thought there was a physical element to his play yesterday, which was fantastic.
"He’s playing fierce well for UCC, too. And it isn’t easy having your dad as the manager of the team, that can’t be easy either.”
Landers was also impressed with the way Waterford manager Liam Cahill rectified early issues in his defence, with Conor Gleeson replaced in defence by Shane Fives.
“Liam Cahill and his management team moved very fast. Waterford didn’t wait around to make decisions, they made it happen,” he said.
“When Cork got off to a very impressive start early on, the Cork forwards — the likes of Kingston and Lehane — pounced on any half a sniff, but the one person that carried the fight to Cork immediately was Kieran Bennett.
"He got three points from play in the first half, and a sideline. He got one in the first half and he sprinted back 70 yards to make sure he was back in front of the puckout.
"I was very impressed with him.
“Liam Cahill and Michael Bevans have two All-Ireland U21s won and an All-Ireland minor as well. And he has made a couple of hard decisions in a number of players he has left off.
“But when you saw the two lineups on Sunday and you saw four debutants in the Waterford team, and without the Tadhy de Burca Austin Gleeson, Pauric Mahony, Kevin Moran, and throw on top of that Noel Connors, Maurice Shanahan, and the other Mahony, there’s eight fellas that would have been regulars.
"And you look at the Cork lineup, from 8 up they had very close to Cork’s starting front eight.
“I think the league is vital for teams to progress.
"There are only two national medals you can win — an All-Ireland and a National League — and if we’re going to disrespect a league medal, it’s a bad start for Cork.”