Kilkenny legend JJ Delaney fears for the future of Cork hurling manager Kieran Kingston unless the Rebels can display a greater guile in tomorrow night’s All-Ireland SHC round 1 qualifier against Dublin in Páirc Uí Rinn (7pm).
The clash is Cork’s first game since the disappointing defeat to Tipperary at the end of May, when a defensive system prevented Tipp from scoring any goals but had the side-effect of limiting the threat of the Cork attack.
This year is the first of a two-year term for Kingston, who has overseen a transition, as more-experienced players have been dispensed with. Sky Sports GAA pundit Delaney believes a defeat similar to that inflicted by Tipp could be a cause for concern.
“Questions have been asked,” said Delaney. “If they go down like they did against Tipperary, I can’t see a future for him, to be honest.
“If they have a bit of fightback, a bit of heart back into their play, I’d definitely give him another year. The attitude will tell a lot, because this is knockout. If your head is not right and if the manager cannot get the team and players right for a knockout game by going out with the attitude ‘we will keep the score down here’, then I don’t think there is a future, but if they come out all guns blazing, which they are more than capable of doing, Cork above any team are confidence players. Patrick Horgan and these lads, you have to get them involved in the game. The attitude of the players and how they perform on Saturday will determine whether Kieran gets another year or not. It will be interesting to see.”
Martin Fogarty, a Kilkenny selector when Delaney was playing, is the new national hurling development manager and he said in yesterday’s Irish Examiner that he didn’t believe Cork hurling to be in crisis. Delaney stops short of disagreeing with that, but feels the Cork system needs surgery.
“Crisis is a word thrown around too regularly at the moment,” he said. “Looking back at this year, really, that’s all they can judge on and it doesn’t really matter what they’ve done the last couple of years.
“Against Tipperary, I just thought the team that lined lined out was just very negative. It was just down to keep Tipp from scoring goals. The sweeper is here for the last couple of years and a lot of teams are playing with it at the moment. I don’t think Cork played with a sweeper, I thought they played with four in the full-back line to nullify any goal threat that Tipp had.
“If Cork are going with that tactic again, I think they have to move William Egan from in between the centre-half back and the full-back. Where he was playing the last day wasn’t effective.”
On Saturday, Delaney’s native county take on Galway in the Leinster SHC final in Croke Park (4pm). He feels that the key factors will be how Galway deal with Michael Fennelly and where Joe Canning is placed.
“They’ve been quite efficient now coming into the championship. They are getting the job done with relative ease against Westmeath and Offaly.
“Let’s just see what Galway team comes out there as well. The big thing they’ll have to do is nullify the effect of Michael Fennelly in the middle of the field. In the last couple of years they didn’t do that, especially in the second half of the All-Ireland final last year.
“It will be interesting to see how Galway come at it, where they are going to play Joe Canning. Is he going to be full-forward, on the wing, or the free role like he had in the league for whatever best suited the team? They have to get him on the ball.”
To celebrate Sky Sports’ GAA coverage, existing customers can upgrade today and enjoy half price Sky Sports for six months by simply going to channel 402 and pressing the red button or visit www.sky.ie/sports
Here’s a little extra sport: BallTalk TV look ahead to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved