Brendan Cummins isn’t just an emerging coach with his work with the goalkeepers of Laois and Kerry; he’s also one of hurling’s younger and more insightful analysts.
So how does he see teams in the league final and Liam MacCarthy shaping up?
Waterford? “Their system is no way defensive, in my view. They’ve scored as many points as Cork during the league. I think the emotion of playing in a league final will carry them a long ways but if there’s a gulf between the teams, we’ll see it in the Munster championship.”
Cork? “The one thing I’m appreciating more and more is that it’s a slow process to get a team to play as you really want. Jimmy [Barry-Murphy] is now in year four and I think Cork are positioned to win something big.
“But they need an enforcer. A Diarmuid O’Sullivan, or a Ronan Curran: the lad that when you put your hand up, you don’t know when you take it down whether you’ll be going to A&E or not. If I was playing wing forward against Cork, I’d put my hand up with no hurley behind. To win anything, you need a little bit of nasty. And that’s not being a thug. JJ Delaney was no hatchet man but you wouldn’t put your hand up against him.”
Clare? “I think they’re fine. Nicky O’Connell is back flying with a bee in his bonnet looking to take someone’s spot which means there are four other guys with a bee in their bonnet too. I’d say Davy has learned a bit from that whole experience, that sometimes you need to be more Kofi Annan than George W Bush.”
Limerick? “Declan Hannon and Graeme Mulcahy are key. Graeme is now hitting a lot of ball over his shoulder. He’s not a goal scoring threat. But if he gets the ball 15 yards out and goes at the corner back, Limerick are going to be very dangerous.”
Dublin? “I don’t think they can win the All-Ireland but they can stop someone else winning it.”
Kilkenny? “They need Walter Walsh to find his form. It’s deserted him but if he gets it back they’ll be there or thereabouts again.”
Tipp? “I think they’ll win it out. In the league semi-final they were without four first-choice backs. But we could do with winning Munster. Whenever we’ve done well it’s been on the back of winning a Munster or league that year or the year before. We’ve been beaten in too many finals and the last close game we won was Galway in 2010. Teams now believe if you take Tipp down the home straight with 10 minutes to go you’ll take them. But I think now Tipp have enough in the tank to get over that and win it all.”
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