Tuesday 31 January 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO
# Comment
Cork's old failings resurface, Dublin's no-show and Kilkenny's reliance on TJ Reid
Plenty to discuss after the last round of regulation games in the Allianz Hurling League.

1. Cork’s old failings resurface

It was as if last weekend’s battling display against Kilkenny never happened. Cork’s defensive frailties were put on blast by a scintillating Tipperary forward line. That mean edge they showed for long spells against the Cats? Non-existent today.

Cork barely laid a hand on Tipperary who scored 2-27, but in truth on another day they might have bagged five goals. If they come across Seamus Callanan during the summer, he won’t be as forgiving in front of goal.

Yet again the Rebels have conceded another huge score. They left Patrick Horgan close to goal, withdrawing the two corner forwards but it didn’t matter defensively as Tipperary sliced through them at will.

Cork need a long, hard look at themselves after this defeat. Beating Galway seems beyond them judging by this display.

They needed that performance against Kilkenny to be the benchmark. Instead it appears to have been an anomaly.

2. Dublin fail to show up

Dublin were riding the crest of a wave with three straight victories in Division 1A, but just in case Ger Cunningham’s troops were beginning to fancy themselves as All-Ireland contenders, Kilkenny put them firmly back in their place.

Dublin had arguably been the revelation of the league heading into this tie, but they never really worried Kilkenny. They looked strangely subdued, especially in the opening quarter, of a game that lacked the sort of intensity we’ve become used to in Division 1A this spring.

But you have to wonder whether Cunningham chose to keep his cards close to his chest today with one eye on the Leinster championship. If Dublin overcome Wexford in the quarter-final, they’ll take on Kilkenny in the last four.

No point showing Cody his hand in a dead rubber.

Greater battles lie ahead.

3. Callanan, Breen and Barry massive positives for Tipperary

James Barry and Patrick Horgan Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

These days it’s hard to know if a comfortable win over Cork counts for much. But Tipperary boss Michael Ryan can look back on the weekend with a huge amount of satisfaction.

Hurler of the Year nominee Seamus Callanan made his long awaited return from injury, coming on at half-time to a rousing reception. He scored two points, the second of which he celebrated by punching the air, and if he was a little bit sharper he would have found the net on at least two occasions.

The full-back position has been a troublesome one in his absence and James Barry’s return was a welcome one on Saturday. He manned the last line of defence with enough authority to suggest that Ryan will proceed with Barry for the foreseeable future.

Michael Breen gave a commanding display at midfield, scoring 1-4 from play.

Finally, John O’Dwyer and John McGrath both deserve a mention for a pair of fine performances, scoring 1-14 between them.

This Tipp forward division is starting to look frightening.

4. Are Kilkenny starting to rely too much on TJ Reid?

Kilkenny did to Dublin what they do to lesser lights so often. They dominated from the throw-in, moved into a commanding lead after the first quarter and won without ever having to move into top gear.

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Once again TJ Reid was exceptional, scoring 11 points. But aside from him, only Richie Hogan and Walter Walsh scored more than twice.

As the free-taker, Reid has shouldered the bulk of Kilkenny’s scoring burden so far this spring. He’s posted 0-7, 0-10, 0-14, 1-12 in addition to his tally against Dublin. That’s 1-54 out of a total of 4-94 for Brian Cody’s side, a 54 percent share of their overall scores.

He has undoubtedly assumed the mantle legendary clubmate Henry Shefflin left behind him. If Reid were to suffer an injury or an off-day, it would leave Kilkenny vulnerable.

5. Galway drop into relegation final

Tadhg de Burca is tackled by Cathal Mannion Ken Sutton / INPHO Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

More than any other side in the country, Galway struggle with consistency.

As a group they put an awful of pressure on themselves by ousting Anthony Cunningham after last year’s All-Ireland final defeat. They can be reasonably happy with their performances in the league so far, with the defeat to Dublin the only major black mark on their campaign.

Joe Canning and Niall Burke have been exceptional. Canning in particular looks lean and on top of his game. You’d expect Galway to dispose of Cork in the relegation final, but again that consistency question hangs over their heads.

Beat Cork and they’ll head into the championship with a spring in their step and a trouble free route to the Leinster final. Micheál Donoghue will be pleased with how they’ve flown under the radar so far.
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