Tipperary’s league final hammering will have instilled significant belief in the Cork camp that victory is attainable this weekend, according to former Rebel County hurler John Considine.
The manner in which Galway blitzed Michael’s Ryan side in the league decider, coupled with Cork’s 0-26 to 3-16 win over the All-Ireland champions in the final round of group games, removed the invincible aura which had surrounded the reigning All-Ireland champions.
“Tipperary might have got a kick up the arse in the league final, but the flip side of that is Galway managed to beat them coming out of 1B, Cork managed to beat them, are they really so far ahead of everybody that we don’t have a chance going up here,” Considine remarked.
“There was a stage during the early rounds of the league where you might have been thinking, ‘are we going up to Thurles for a hiding’. But between the Cork victory and seeing Galway beat them, there must be greater belief in the Cork camp than what was there before they faced Tipperary in the league.
“You could argue Tipperary were already qualified for the knockout stages when they played Cork. But when you add in the Galway game, are they really as unbeatable as we thought they were before the Cork game?
“The tail end of their league campaign gives people hope. The Cork players must be saying to themselves, ‘we did it, Galway did it’.
“Of course, Tipperary will be favourites. But I’d prefer to be on that side of it where you are going, ‘they are not the bigger men that people, maybe, thought they were’. Tipperary’s performances... there’s a chink there. Was it overconfidence against Galway, or was it something else?”
Considine, corner-back on the all-conquering 1990 team, says Cork’s league performances are proof positive the team is in a much better place than they were 12 months ago – three round-robin victories were churned out this spring as opposed to zero last year.
The Rebels were never at the races when falling 0-22 to 0-13 in the corresponding fixture last year, but the current Cork U17 boss doesn’t expect Sunday’s clash to be half as one-sided. Nor does he expect a sweeper to be deployed on this occasion.
“The bare minimum is that the lads have a go. I’d be confident enough they’d put in a performance.
“I think management have greater confidence in the group as well. This year, they seem to be playing with a bit more belief in themselves. They’ll relish the challenge of going to Thurles.
“Even the sounds coming from the camp, you would definitely think they are more confident in of what they are doing.
“You can see the improvements. There has been progress. Okay, they get frustrated at times. They go from a good game to a not so good game, from a good half of hurling to a not so good half. I’d say if you were to ask every single one of the players, I’d say they feel they have progressed.
"If you believe that, you are more likely to approach Sunday’s game with the view of let us see where we are at. Cork had five points on the board at half-time last year. The attitude among the players has to be, ‘we’ve come on a lot and we can do a hell of a lot better than this’.
“I would be amazed if they were going in with any negative thoughts about damage limitation. On all evidence, Tipperary are ahead. But it is not as if you are taking a junior team to play a senior team.
“Nobody expects us to win but if things start going our way, who knows. You have young lads there and if things go well early on, they could cut loose.”
Were Kingston’s charges to come up short at Semple Stadium, they would become the first Cork hurling team in the 128-year running of the Munster championship to go three consecutive seasons without winning a single game in the province.
Considine says if the players are concerned by this stat ahead of the quarter-final, then Cork “don’t have a hope”.
“If you’re marking Bubbles or John McGrath or Seamus Callanan, you won’t be thinking about records.
“Certainly, the younger fellas won’t be thinking about it because they will be saying, ‘I wasn’t here’. It may play a bit on the very periphery of the mind, but very little.
“If that is foremost on your mind, oh God help us.”
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