Tipperary: S. Hassett; J. Bourke; J. Meaghar; J. Peters; T. Hamill; J. Forde; C. Barrett (S. Kennedy); B. Maher; E. Fennelly; C. Hammersley (0-2); D.McCormack (0-1); J. McGrath (0-2; B. Heffernan); P. Ralph; L. McGrath (0-9f); C. Horan (2-2).
Cork: G. Minihane; Alan Dennehy (T. Condon); C. Spillane; Anthony Dennehy (D. Morrissey); C. Walsh; C. Barry (C. Buckley); K. Burke; S. O’Keeffe (J. Fitzgerald); K. McIntyre (0-2); A. Cadogan (C. Cullinane); D. Cahill (0-1); C. Murphy; P. O’Callaghan (1-0); D. Sweetnam (0-1); R. O’Shea (0-5, 0-4f).
Not much to say about this one – another Cork hurling team unfortunately out-classed at underage level. In truth, after the defeat to Limerick and a pretty medicore performance to Kerry this defeat was always likely but one hoped at least for a competitive match. Unfortunately, besides the beginning of each halfs Tipp were well on top, and besides O’Callaghan’s goal and O’Shea’s miss immediately afterwards we never even remotely looked likely to win.
Much of what I said after the Kerry game was once again true. I may have to repeat doubts about management over the past year and a half but nonetheless, here goes. First, one worries about a management team that makes radical changes game to game, as they did from Limerick to Kerry and again last year – it shows a failure to know your players, to know where players play best and what players you want to play your style of game. Comments last year about being able to pick 50 players for the squad further suggests an inability to pick the best, most suitable players. Secondly, constantly switching players only helps to confuse players, hurt their morale and destroy any sense of pattern in their play – in fact a problem puts doubts in the minds of players as to the management’s competency.
Most importantly, and as the above points suggest a lack of focus and direction, the team itself played with a complete lack of a gameplan. I couldn’t guess as to what way the management wanted their team to play – possibly a running game, as a number of players were fast and clearly disposed to such a style, but often over the Kerry and Tipperary games any soloing often led to players running down cul de sacs and getting dispossessed due to a lack of support play. Moreover, if we wanted to play a nice short style of hurling, playing short balls into our full-forward line, we did a largely horrible job of it, our inside forwards starved of ball, even against Kerry. Besides, we only had maybe one player who could pass the ball with intelligence and open up the game, and he played the first half in full forward. In reality we looked to be a big strong team that could have played to these strengths – play it fast and direct, be physical, be aggressive and bully teams. Unfortunately our style of play was notable for an almost complete inability to be aggressive, be direct or be physical. Finally, basic skills like hand passingand shooting were far below par throughout the side. Very simply, we both failed to play as a team and failed to play in a particular style – two serious failings that can only land on the heads of the trainers, the management.
Being a little more positive, there was some decent individual performances. Killian McIntyre looked skillful and energetic in the first half and popped over a couple of nice points; Pa O’Callaghan, looked classy and finished his goal perfectly while Dylan Cahill showed some decent flashes, setting up the goal and scoring a nice point, although he looks more like a midfielder or half forward then a center forward. All three of these players are underage next year. In the backs, both Killian Burke and Colm Spillane were solid and worked hard while in goals Gary Minihane made some excellent saves. Other players, like Darren Sweetnam, have the vision and skill to make it senior level, but lack in certain areas. Unfortunately, in recent years Cork has a history of doing a poor job in turning talented sticksmen – thank Patrick Horgan, Cathal Naughton, Padraig O’Sullivan – into all round balanced hurlers at senior inter-county level.
For Tipp, although they didn’t look to be the strongest Tipperary Minor side I’ve ever seen, but were undeniably a superior hurling with some classy players. Ralph and Hammersley caught the eye with some nice touches up front while corner forward Horan was undeniably the man of the match, tearing apart the Cork full-back line with pace and aggression. Elsewhere, Forde at center-back was strong throughout while Fennelly at midfield was also excellent. I’d be suprised if they won Munster and would put them behind both Clare and Waterford – nonetheless they have some dangerous players and won’t be easy to beat.