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The Apoplectic And Embarrassed Reaction To Cork's Horror-Show Against Tipperary

The Apoplectic And Embarrassed Reaction To Cork's Horror-Show Against Tipperary
By Gavan Casey

Cork deployed a sweeper beneath the torrential Thurles rain and still conceded 0-14 to Tipperary in the first half of their Munster Championship quarter-final - with 10 of those points arriving from play.

Two minutes from time, with Cork still trailing by seven, that sweeper was still fully operational.

It became apparent within the opening minutes of the 81st meeting between the two provincial rivals that The Rebels' so-called 'tough, physical brand of hurling' failed to incorporate one of the key components of any hurling gameplan; namely, the ability to hurl.

Tipp were first to every ball, and bar a string of converted sympathy frees at the start of the second half, Cork were never in the game. Patrick Horgan went for goal with Cork trailing by seven with 15 minutes remaining, but saw a tame effort blocked quite easily on the line. Cork's second-highest scorer ever, Horgan touched the ball three times in play before being taken off with 10 minutes remaining.

Even that probably doesn't even adequately represent how inept Cork were on Sunday afternoon. The final score of 0-22 to 0-13 all but cemented the notion that the Leesiders team are now - by quite some margin - the second-weakest hurling outift in Munster, as Michael Ryan's Tipp march on untested to face Limerick in a Munster semi.

The fact that no Cork fan expected otherwise did little to curb the feeling of humiliation and anger at their side's paltry showing, as many neutral fans and pundits chimed in both to pile on the misery, and to lament Cork's fall from grace as a hurling power.

Anthony Daly wrote a superb article midweek about encountering Cork in the '99 Munster final.

Donal Óg Cusack was standing opposite me as we strolled off behind the Moycarkey Pipe Band. ‘We are Cork, boy, we are Cork,’ he was shouting. ‘We have 27 All-Irelands. Ye have only two.,’

quoted Daly. That perception of Cork hurling, both within the county and outside it, has long-since eroded. A nine point defeat to Tipperary was what most Rebels fans expected, but also proves just how far they've fallen in the past decade - a freak season in 2013 notwithstanding.

The qualifiers will once more test their character, but in truth you can no longer expect this current Cork squad to perform to the wounded animal adage. They lack talent, skill and depth, and that's neither the management team's fault nor the players'.

But as for their decision to stick with the sweeper, despite its total inefficiency and ultimate redundancy, it's worth noting that current selector and advisor to Cork boss Kieran Kingston - the legendary Diarmuid 'The Rock' O'Sullivan - had this to say last year:

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