Former Cork coach and midfielder Justin McCarthy reckons the Leesiders don’t play as fast as All-Ireland champions Tipperary and suffer as a result.
McCarthy also makes a similar point to another former Cork captain, Mark Landers, on thehurling podcast earlier this week that the style of the team isn’t varied enough.
But ahead of the Tipperary clash in Páirc Uí Chaoimh Saturday evening, the Passage man is particularly concerned that the players aren’t performing at the pace necessary at inter-county level.
“Tipp will always respect Cork because the people of Tipperary are hurling people, but if you watch the way Tipperary play, they play a faster brand of hurling,” says McCarthy.
“In today’s world with players in such great shape you have to be able to move the ball faster. Otherwise, you’re going to get chopped up, clobbered, tied up and so on.
“Tipperary can move the ball quickly.
Their mantra last year was get the ball forward quickly and they were all tuned into that. How does that happen? In training. It has to be non-stop when you’re training at a high level.
“Take a team like Antrim playing a team like Cork or Tipperary, they have all the basics and the skills but they mightn’t have their quickness of mind. I’ve often made out that it’s like needing eyes in the back of your head in Cork city because it’s that busy, but go up to Dublin and it’s 10 times worse. Go to London or New York and you’re saying to yourself, ‘I couldn’t cope here.’
“It comes down to training and being encouraged all the time by the coach to do things faster and faster. Then when you come into a game situation you’re able to play at a higher pace and you won’t get caught up. Tipp have that.”
McCarthy was concerned how Cork made life difficult for themselves by taking the steam out of their attacks with short passes.
“That team isn’t functioning. It’s not gelling. There is too much tipping around, going across the field and tapping around here and there. Hurling is a game of a variety of strokes and you can play it different ways but for Cork they need to move the ball up the field faster.
“They have good forwards who can score if they get the ball quick enough. If you have big men up there okay you can do different things but quick ball into the corners is very important for Cork.
But they seem to be looking around when they get the ball and the habits they’ve had over the last two or three years are still there.
"That’s what troubles me because I see young lads playing that way.
“I was involved with the Passage minor team last year and we came from a low base. But we were good in games because we played direct against teams who were better than Passage. But they all had the same way of playing, one to two to three to four to five, up through the lines and they were getting nowhere.
“It’s coming into the county team obviously but they have to vary it and toughen up in the exchanges in going for the ball. Players have to toughen up and show more hardship to get the ball.”
After an awful day in front of the posts in Walsh Park, McCarthy hopes Cork coach Ger Cunningham had shooting practice high on the agenda at training this past week: “If you’re bad at catching the ball or something else, you practise.
"How many wides did they have last Sunday? (17) You spend 20 minutes, half an hour every day on your own and start shooting from different angles.
“Then you do it in training, fellas hitting the ball into you and being marked until you get to the point when you’ve one sniff at the posts and the next thing the ball is over the bar.
You have to get the basics right or risk being left behind.
Former Waterford manager McCarthy had plenty of praise for Liam Cahill’s young side in seeing off Cork last Sunday: “It was a great performance by them.
“There was great drive in them, great teamwork and they foraged for a lot of ball and their striking from out the field was good.
“For such a young team with a new manager, you were thinking ‘good luck’ after those two early goals they conceded but the next thing they took on Cork and beat them fair and square and should have won by more.”