Connect with us

Features

Winners & Losers: Cork, Michael Breen and Waterford

Tipperary and Kilkenny roll on, while Cork get back on track with a huge win over Limerick.

Winners

Cork

What an incredible response a week after being outplayed and outfought by Tipperary on home turf. In true Irish sporting fashion, the obituaries were being written last Monday morning – and it really wasn’t looking good for the Rebels, with such a quick turnaround into the Gaelic Grounds against the reigning All-Ireland champions. Before the game, question marks hung over John Meyler’s status as manager, and whether or not the panel wanted to play for him anymore. This notion was quickly washed as Cork stood toe to toe with a green Limerick side that seemed cagey and rusty, far from the side that white-washed Waterford in the league final a few weeks ago. Cork never let them settle, keeping the game open and error-ridden, and ensuring Limerick never got into their aquatic flow.

What’s encouraging for Cork is the performances shown from some of their key men. Darragh Fitzgibbon was much more involved, as the returning Bill Cooper played the perfect anchor to let him roam free. Daniel Kearney had one of his best games for Cork, while Seamus Harnedy, Luke Meade and Alan Cadogan were all prolific in attack. Cork seemed sturdier at the back also – Niall O’Leary looks like a gem at corner back, while Mark Ellis shored up the centre back position superbly.

Cadogan Brothers

As Conor Lehane limped off inside the first five minutes, John Meyler rubbed his head in angst. Losing a player of Lehane’s ilk so early on in the game would’ve been more of a blow than Bill Cooper’s removal from the side minutes before throw-in against Tipperary. Step up Alan Cadogan. His first appearance since August 2017, the mercurial talent has been unlucky with injury in recent seasons, but reminded everyone how good he is with an astounding performance from the bench, nailing three points and lifting the Rebels with his attacking menace. At the opposite end of the field, Eoin Cadogan had one of his best full back performances in a long time. The former football All-Ireland winner proved his worth as he kept the usually prolific Limerick full forward line on a short leash. A very productive day for the Cadogan brothers.

Tipperary

Were they going to back up last week’s fine performance and victory over Cork? That was the question going into this one, and the Premier County delivered. John O’Dwyer was in imperious form once again, scoring a couple of lovely early scores to set the tone. But his performance was overshadowed by a much livelier Jason Forde, who took on the mantle of scoring from every sort of angle this week, including a sublime sideline cut – which was somehow bettered by Ronan Maher sixty seconds later. Sure, Tipp were helped with Waterford’s reduction to 14 men when Conor Gleeson got his second yellow card, but it was markedly better than any performance last year, with some defensive fortitude and attacking creativity that they had sorely been lacking. Tipp, it appears, are indeed back.

Michael Breen

Six points from play and an all-action midfield performance from one of the most impressive athletes in hurling. He doesn’t do it often enough, but Sunday’s performance showed why he gets the nod so often because he can dominate games when he’s on form. He’s a boom or bust sort of player, and against Waterford he was superb.

Cavan

The Cavan men delivered a huge Ulster championship win over rivals Monaghan, sending them into the semi-finals. It was their first championship win over Monaghan in 18 years, coming out four point victors having lost the last three games by a combined deficit of only five points.

Oisin Kiernan

Diagnosed with testicular cancer last August, completing chemotherapy in February, and lining out and winning in the Ulster championship in May.

Kilkenny

The Cats made light work of Carlow, as expected. The last thing Galway and Wexford need is a Kilkenny side picking up a head of steam going into the next rounds of Leinster championship. Cody has introduced some young talent and TJ Reid is already flying it.

Armagh

An extra time winner in a thriller against Down sends Armagh into the Ulster semi-finals and gives Kieran McGeeney his first Ulster win with the Orchard County, and it was long overdue. Now, one of Cavan and Armagh will contest the Ulster championship final on the 23rd of June.

Dublin

To initially lose a big lead was sickening, but what a way to rescue a draw with Seán Moran’s 21-yard free piercing the Wexford goalline. It was badly needed and they live to fight another day.

Losers

Waterford

Another meek performance. They battled hard to reduce the deficit against Clare last week, and many gave them a chance of shocking Tipperary in Thurles as the small field in Walsh Park really didn’t suit them, but they failed to get going at all. The red card didn’t help, of course, but even before then Tipperary were running their backs ragged. Aside from a brief spell early in the second half, it was one way traffic. The Déise are staring towards another Munster round-robin dumping, barring a huge turnaround against Limerick in two weeks time.

Conor Gleeson

Burnt early on for a John O’Dwyer score, Gleeson went in on Seamus Callanan in the square and got into some argy-bargy for which both players got yellow cards. Not too long later, Gleeson is hauling down Patrick Maher as he bears down on goal and receives his marching orders with just a half an hour gone. A bad day in the office for the Fourmilewater man.

Limerick

A lethargic and sloppy display from the Shannonsiders. They seemed caught on their heels, clearly not up to the speed of championship hurling as the touch and pass wasn’t as tuned as we had seen earlier this year in the league. Of course, Cork had a game under their belt which would have helped massively. What may be worrying for John Kiely and his team is that they looked tired and heavy late on as Cork started to pull away, with the substitutes failing to add any sort of buck in their step. Are the legs heavy after an intense 12 months? The two week wait for their next game may seem like a long time now, no doubt they’d much prefer to not have to think too much about and fire into Waterford sooner rather than later.

Wexford

It looked like a cracking game in Parnell Park. Having pulled back a big deficit with two second half goals, Wexford looked well on their way to a hugely important Leinster win. With a three point lead in the closing seconds, to let in a 21-yard free like that will be crippling. It leaves both sides with plenty to play for.

Carlow

We had them in the winners column last week after a good fight against Galway, but they’ve dropped down to this side of the column after Sunday’s 14-point loss to Kilkenny. It could’ve been much more were it not for a strong second half showing from Colm Bonnar’s men, as Kilkenny dropped down a gear. Having said all that, Carlow could have a huge say in things yet as they await both Dublin and Wexford.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *