Cork will need a big tally to confirm Munster qualification

Clare, Limerick and Galway are already through their provincial round robins. Barry Cleary assesses the remaining contenders using data from GAA Insights.
Cork will need a big tally to confirm Munster qualification

Barry Cleary Dublin weakness

Dublin 

Strengths 

1. Donal Burke: The second most accurate shooter from play so far in the Championship. Scoring 0-15 from 23 shots, including a match-winning display against Wexford. Burke is also solid on frees and is the man targeted most by opposition managers.

2. Long Puckouts: Dublin have a success rate of 56% on long puckouts, second only to Limerick this season. Danny Sutcliffe is their main target who has had only a fair return (43%) but puckouts to Mellett, McBride, Hayes and Donal Burke have yielded a high success rate. Only Kilkenny have had success in shutting down their long puckout, Michael Carey and Walter Walsh commanded the left-wing back zone, taking away Dublin’s advantage.

Weaknesses 

1. Scoring: Averaging under 23 points per game, they are the lowest scorers of the Leinster and Munster teams still alive. A return of one goal from 8 shots (12.5%) also makes Dublin the least potent goal threat. Reliant on Donal Burke and long-range scores.

Dublin's scoring struggle
Dublin's scoring struggle

2. Counter attacks

Against Wexford and Kilkenny, Dublin have conceded 1-30 from ball turned over outside their 45m, compared to the 0-20 Dublin have earned from their own counter attacks. This 1-10 scoring difference is something Dublin must assess. 

Wexford 

Strengths 

1. Defence: Despite the pre-season move from a sweeper and a five-goal loss to Waterford in the league semi-final, Wexford have allowed only four goal shots through their opening 4 games and have conceded an average of 0-20 per game – the lowest of all teams.  

2. Shooting defenders: A legacy of the Davy Fitz era is Wexford’s running game, leaving defenders high up the field. This has developed confidence to shoot in defenders. Damien Reck hit three long range scores against Dublin and Simon Donohoe showed last week his ability to score from distance. Connal Flood is also a dangerous wing back.

Weaknesses 

1. Freetaking: Lee Chin rescued a draw with a superb 65m pressure free against Galway but since then Wexford have suffered free-taking woes. Key frees missed against Dublin and Westmeath has cost them dearly. Westmeath have taken the same number of free shots (53), from a very similar range, and have returned 0-44 to Wexford’s 0-36.  

2. Defending long puckout: So far Wexford have lost 53% of long puckouts faced — only Laois and Westmeath have performed worse. And they have lost 58% on breaking ball on these puckouts. The loss to injury of Shaun Murphy and Gavin Bailey gives Darragh Egan fewer options this year.

Wexford's defensive weakness
Wexford's defensive weakness

Kilkenny 

Strengths 

1. Eoin Cody: Cody has played a role in an average of 10 shots a game for Kilkenny, assisted 19 shots and taking 22 of his own. Galway needed to reshape their defence to handle the Ballyhale man, Padraig Mannion was deployed as sweeper and had to double up with Jack Grealish to steady the ship. Cody’s pace and ability to turn sharply makes him a danger to any corner back.

2. Goal threat: Since Galway’s All Ireland win in 2017 a trend emerged of low goal-scoring teams with high point returns. Limerick look to score over 27 points in a game. Kilkenny, meanwhile, are sticking to their guns and going for goal. Through four games they have amassed 22 goal shots with 13 hitting the net. That's 14 more than the All-Ireland champions in the same number of games.

Weaknesses 

1. Use of possession:  They have turned over possession of the sliotar on average 50 times in a game. This a stunning figure when you compare it to the likes of Limerick who turn over nearly 16 fewer possessions in a game. Kilkenny like to deliver the ball quick and long while the Munster teams focus on delivering precise ball. Kilkenny trust their forwards to hunt for the ball but it will be interesting to see if they can maintain these turnover numbers when facing a Limerick or Clare later in the Championship.

Kilkenny's turnovers
Kilkenny's turnovers

2. Unsettled team:  No team has searched more for their best team than Kilkenny who have chopped and changed throughout. The team that faced Dublin had a new full back (injury enforced), centre back and midfielder, along with two new faces in the full-forward Line. Cody has never been afraid to cut players not performing with Martin Keoghan, Cian Kenny, Billy Ryan, TJ Reid, Walter Walsh and James Maher all subbed on or before half-time.

Waterford  

Strengths 

1. Multiple scoring threats: Liam Cahill has a swiss army knife of attacking talent – size, speed, cuteness and skill. Waterford don’t have an over-reliance on one forward and it shows in the shot involvements this season.

Waterford spread the scores 
Waterford spread the scores 

2. Freetaking:  Stephen Bennett is the fourth most accurate free-taker this year (Killian Doyle of Westmeath is top) and Austin Gleeson can also score from any distance. Any team who concedes a free outside of Waterford’s 45m knows it will be a shooting opportunity.

Weakness 

1. Long puckouts: Waterford have won 40% of long puckouts. They had masked this failing with clever short puckout plans in the league but teams have been wiser in championship, Cork only allowing 10 short puckouts last Sunday. Waterford have been losing the breaks on long puckouts 17 to 31 (35% win rate). This area was Waterford biggest threat and key to their big wins in 2020/21.

2. Turnovers lost inside own 45m: Starting from the Tipp game in Waterford have not been secure with possession coming out from defence. They have lost possession nearly five times per game in this key area.

Waterford's vulnerability 
Waterford's vulnerability 

Tipperary 

Strengths 

1. Workrate: The main asset for Tipp has been a ferocious appetite to chase and tackle. No team in Munster has turned opposition ball over more often in the opposition half. Conor Stakelum led the charge against Limerick causing six turnovers on his own.  

2. Creating chances: Despite the loss of so many forwards, Tipperary have created the highest number of shots per game in Munster — nearly 42 shots a game, including five goal shots. Compare this to Cork who have just under 36 shots a game.

Weaknesses 

1. Finishing: It has been the most “un-Tipp” season for Colm Bonnar. For a long time Tipperary have been the most clinical team in hurling, but there has been a complete collapse. On the goal front they have scored four of their 16 goal shots, which has cost them dearly.

2. Long puckouts: One consistent issue Tipperary have had for four seasons is a struggle to win long puckouts. This year they have the lowest win rate (35%) which is ominous facing into the best long puckout defence. This did not stop the 2019 team win an All-Ireland but is only allowable if your half-back Line is as dominant on opposition long puckouts as it was in 2019.

Cork

Strengths 

1. Winning opposition long puckouts: Cork have found a solid base to work from in key games by winning 62%. Limerick opted to only go long 10 times in their battle and for good reason. Since then Clare were dominated on Quilligan’s restarts, Cork winning 12 of 17. Waterford also found Cork's defence too strong, losing 60% of long puckouts. This has led to Cork scoring 1-14 from counter-attacks off opposition puckout wins.

2. Defending their goals: Cork have confined opponents to seven goal shots, the lowest rate of Munster teams. Cork’s strategy since last year's All-Ireland final has been to protect the house. Clare only had one goal shot and Waterford two. This weekend's game will be a sterner test as Tipp are averaging five goal shots a game.

Weaknesses 

1. Scoring from distance: One threat Cork do not possess this season is the ability to punish teams from outside the 65m. With a scoring rate of 38% the opposition can allow Cork space in the half back line and not be punished like Limerick did to Cork on the opening week, scoring 0-8 from 13 shots. Ciarán Joyce, Mark Coleman and Darragh Fitzgibbon have a combined 0-2 from eight shots from distance.

2. Conceding chances: Through the opening three games Cork have conceded an average of 45 shots per game – the highest in Munster with only Westmeath conceding more. They have protected their goal well but in doing so given up space further out the field for teams to shoot. With Tipp already having one of the highest shot numbers per game Cork may have to post a large number to win on Sunday.

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