Saturday 16 December 2017

Cork to down Treaty

Rebels can end 'famine' in Páirc farewell

ONE of two things could happen in Páirc Uí Chaoimh tomorrow.

Either Cork will win, a victory that will constitute their first trophy of note since 2006 and reaffirm what they hinted at by reaching last year's All-Ireland final; that not only has the debris been completely and finally cleared from the strikes, but that the team which emerged are of the serious, potentially Liam MacCarthy-winning variety.

Or Limerick will win and demonstrate to the many, many doubters that their 2013 Munster triumph wasn't merely a team kicking an entire sport while it's down.

Of course, it could be a draw … but let's ignore that for now.

For Limerick, winning in Thurles took more than nerve. It took some brilliant hurling. And though he has been at pains to play down it's significance, TJ Ryan's reinvention if the Limerick half-forward line has, on the evidence of that game, given them both a greater balance and an extra scoring dimension.


Between them, Declan Hannon, Donal O'Grady and Shane Dowling hit 2-12 of Limerick's 2-18 that day, with Dowling scoring 2-9 by himself.

That's Shane Dowling, the man who started last year's All-Ireland semi-final defeat - a flop of a Limerick performance - on the bench.

That Ryan has pulled that off without, seemingly, sacrificing any of Limerick's defensive edge is hugely impressive and you couldn't for a second argue that their back six is any weaker for the relocation of Seamus Hickey there.

All of which in terms of evolution has been matched and surpassed by Cork.

Within the most ridiculous puck of Domhnaill O'Donovan's life they might have been from winning the All-Ireland last year, but even if Jimmy Barry-Murphy isn't the most stunning tactician in hurling, he has shown a ruthlessness in his advancement of the team.

Whether Damien Cahalane and Mark Ellis recover to play tomorrow or not, they have and will play big roles for Cork this year.

Aidan Walsh, for all the flak flung at him last weekend after the Munster football final, remains vital to both the Rebel footballers and hurlers.

It might, however, be the emergence of Alan Cadogan this year that proves ultimately the most significant. In reverse order, he hit three from play against Clare, just one in the Waterford replay but four in the drawn game and won the Man of the Match award.


Crucially, he is a goal threat too, despite being yet to net in the Championship and changes the perception that Cork's forwards are too 'samey'.

They've had three Championship matches already this summer and if Kilkenny and Dublin (the 2013 version) are any sort of indicators as to how such match frequency affects a team, it's in a wholly positive, adhesive way.

Remarkably, it's eight years since Cork won a Munster title. This team have just enough experience and sufficient class to end that run.

ODDS: Cork 4/9, Draw 10/1, Limerick 9/4




(Pc Uí Chaoimh, Tom, 4.0, Live RTÉ2)

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