I expected an improvement from Cork. Given how poor they were against Waterford and the sheer scale of criticism they attracted, there simply had to be a response.
They had to stand up and be counted. And to their credit, they produced a performance.
Kieran Kingston made five changes to the team that fell to the Déise. Luke Meade brought a lot of energy in the midfield, Colm Spillane anchored the defence and Robbie O’Flynn added real pace in the forwards.
Mark Coleman was far more involved. When Dublin went with a sweeper, the Blarney man was the right man to keep spare; he read the game so well.
Jack O’Connor and Declan Dalton added real options up front.
The attitude, energy levels, effort and work-rate were better.
But I also thought there was superior use of the ball, and they played better as a team.
Dublin were flat
It was disappointing from the Sky Blues.
Perhaps the comeback against Kilkenny gave them a false sense of security. But when they had all the momentum against the Cats, it was Kilkenny who found the game-winning scores.
Are Dublin a top-six side? The evidence after Sunday would suggest they are not. Mattie Kenny has serious issues to address.
Ronan Hayes and Eamon Dillon got a very poor service. I think that has been a problem for Dublin for years; if you play in the full-forward line, you don’t get the same quality of distribution that Aaron Gillane enjoys in Limerick or Seamus Callanan gets with Tipperary.
Your inside forwards are only as good as the service they get. The best hurling teams make their full-forward line look good.
Far too often, Dublin’s inside forwards find themselves living on scraps. They don’t get a frequent high quality of ball that gives them the best chance of showing what they can do.
Cork won’t need any motivation
The draw has thrown up a mouth-watering showdown with Tipp.
Against the defending All-Ireland champions, Cork know that if they produce anything less than a five-star performance, they will be out.
I don’t think it is a bad draw at all for the Lee-siders. It concentrates the minds very, very quickly on the task at hand.
They are in a much better place than they were seven days ago. They have a lot more positives now to take forward.
With Seamus Harnedy, O’Connor and O’Flynn on the field, there is real pace in that forward line. The one thing that Tipp don’t have is that level of pace. Cork just need to find a way to make it count.
If they find a way to run at the Premier’s defence, and win enough primary possession to do so, they have the tools to capitalise.
I’m sure Cork would prefer playing on a harder surface. I couldn’t imagine the Gaelic Grounds would be their first preference. But they came to Limerick last year with their backs to the wall, and delivered a top-class performance.
Tipp are licking their wounds
Tipp had the week off, hurting after their loss to the Treaty.
Liam Sheedy won’t be dwelling on their Munster semi-final defeat. Sure, if they cross paths again, they will look closer at the video tapes.
But half-way through the second half on Lee-side, the management’s minds were focused on regrouping, getting back training. They know they are better than that.
There is no safety net now. As a player, that focuses you very quickly.
Sheedy would have been glued to Sky Sports last Saturday as the Rebels beat Dublin, to see what Cork would bring. And that’s an advantage, knowing what they are facing and what the Cork starting XV is likely to be.
Can Kieran Kingston throw a few curveballs in terms of team selection, like Limerick did?
Tipp will be ready. They have to be. They won’t be as poor again.
It’s a hard one to call.
If Cork can get enough ball into their forwards and take the Tipp defence on, I’d give Cork every chance.
The question is, how are they going to defend? That starts at number 15. Limerick showed that if you cut off the supply chains to Callanan and Jake Morris, there is not much they can do if they don’t have the ball.
Gun to my head, I’d say Tipp. But that’s tentative. I give Cork a real chance, if they can attack the Tipp defence.
Cork are playing for the third consecutive weekend. Tipperary are that bit fresher. And that might just edge it.
Watch Cork vs Tipperary live on Sky Sports Mix on Saturday.
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