Wednesday 16 January 2019

Corbett has 'an incredibly deep understanding of the game' says O'Neill


That was the broad sentiment from many of the Tipperary fans as they made their way from Croke Park two and a half weeks ago, wrestling with that strange limbo of unexpected emotion only a drawn All-Ireland final can inflict.

There was a moment, midway through the second half of the All-Ireland final to end all All-Ireland finals, when it looked for all the world that Lar Corbett was just about mad enough to believe he could win this tumultuous game on his own.

Had that shot veered slightly beneath or just right of the meeting of Eoin Murphy's crossbar and post, he might well have.

Such was his explosive, untrackable influence, there seems now a fair chance Brian Hogan could pay the ultimate price for Lar's show of flashy genius with his starting jersey for Saturday's replay.

All this, after playing like an absent-minded debutant in January during the semi-final cakewalk with Cork.

"Lar Corbett, he is an exceptional talent," says Tipperary selector Paudie O'Neill.

"It's a privilege to work with him on the training ground. But I think what people don't appreciate about him is, Larry has an incredibly deep understanding of the game.


"And he's a very deep thinker of the game. And I enjoy engaging with him because he has unique insights into it."

No doubt.

But along with Noel McGrath, Corbett's form had been the very source of frustration for many a Tipp fan going into the final.

Though not, it seems, for their management.

"Absolutely not. Genuinely. We would have felt that he was in great form and he was working hard and contributing a lot in terms of his experience as a group," O'Neill insisted.

"2001 was his first All-Ireland, so he has massive experience."

Both good and bad.

More than any Tipp player, he has inflicted misery and had it inflicted upon him, by Kilkenny during this recent spat of theirs but seemed unperturbed last week.

"There is a history between teams." O'Neill admits. "Those are facts. But facts are facts. History can also be a distraction.


"We weren't going out thinking we've played Kilkenny 'X' number of times and we've have or haven't beaten them how ever many times.

"We just went out on whatever day is was and it's the same for the next day. So what happened the last day, that's history. At some stage you have to draw a line under it and say there's another game to be played.

In the last two All-Ireland final replays, we've had heros emerge from anonymity in Walter Walsh and Shane O'Donnell, a sign surely that over reliance on reflection might be a miscalculation.

"You take all the data from the drawn game but you have to put it aside there and park it," says O'Neill.

"There is no two games that follows the same script or narrative. So the next game will be a different game.

"Different weather conditions, different surface conditions. So you wouldn't want to get hung up on paralysis by analysis and getting hung up on the minutiae of the drawn game.

"I think our approach has quite genuinely been 95 per cent-plus focused on ourselves," he adds.

"I think once you start focusing too much on the opposition, particularly when it's in the realm of…'maybe/if' hypothesis, we don't know. You focus on what is definite," concludes O'Neill.

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