Former Cork captain Tomás Mulcahy believes that “a 200 or 300% improvement” in workrate is required ahead of the Munster SHC quarter-final with Waterford.
In Sunday’s Allianz HL Division 1 final, Waterford triumphed 1-24 to 0-17. The counties meet in the opening round of the championship in five weeks’ time but Mulcahy has cautioned against the notion of expecting Cork to automatically improve and Waterford to not be as good.
“There has been an improvement in every game Waterford have played,” he said. “To score 1-24 was phenomenal, that’ll win a lot of games, they worked incredibly hard. The disappointing thing for Cork is they allowed so many scores. They have to see now if they can get their attitude and workrate right.
“Management can take some of the blame, but when the players cross the white line, it’s up to them and they’ll realise they have an opportunity to put things right in five weeks’ time, though with a 200 or 300% improvement.”
While Cork may been perceived in some quarters to have been shadow-boxing, Mulcahy doesn’t think that winning would have been a hindrance.
“Cork weren’t in a bad position at half-time, 0-11 to 0-7 down, and you’d have expected them to improve in the second half, like against Dublin, but it got worse.
“I don’t know if it was a case that they weren’t trying, but in the modern game, doing well in the league hasn’t affected Kilkenny or Tipperary. It’s an important competition to win and I think this is a setback for Cork.”
Directly attacking the spare men in the Waterford defence might have been a better option.
“At times, you had Cork defenders picking up the ball with nobody near them and when they looked up, all they saw was a massed crowd,” Mulcahy said. “If they hit it down, it was coming back as quickly and at times it was only Maurice Shanahan up front.
“You’d be asking if Cork were better off pushing on, creating a bit of physicality around the midfield area. It was a sea of blue and white, and should have Cork have nearly gone man-to-man and trusted the full-back line?”
Those views are echoed by another former Cork captain, his namesake Pat Mulcahy. He wonders, however, is this may have been deliberate, to allow Cork to evaluate the Waterford system.
“From where I was sitting, it didn’t look obvious that Cork were doing anything to counteract Waterford,” he said.
“They’ve seen first-hand how Waterford operate. They need to find a way to be a bit more patient and maybe to have some more numbers around the field.”
The Newtownshandrum man feels that it could suit Cork to go into the championship having been beaten.
“They beat Waterford last year in the first round of championship and if they had beaten them on Sunday, the first round in five weeks would be dangerous,” he said. “Now, they haven’t shown their hand, Waterford might be favourites and I think that Jimmy is very good in an underdog situation.
“There’ll be a backlash, they’ll circle the wagons, the players are experienced and they know what it takes. I’d give Cork a very good chance of beating Waterford in the championship.”
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