by Lár na Pairce
Jack O’Connor bows out
The old Irish maxim “thios seal, thuas seal” was sharply brought into focus with the announcement this past week that Kerry manager Jack O’Connor had tendered his resignation to the Kerry County Board following his county’s defeat to Donegal in last Sunday week’s quarter final tie.
Is it not truly amazing how things can change over a short period of time as just a short few weeks ago, O’Connor, was being feted as a tactical genius following his side’s defeat of Tyrone?
Now that victory has been forgotten and Kerry must seek a new man to guide them through what looks to be a rough enough patch.
No All Ireland title since 2009, one under-21 win in Munster since 2004 and most alarmingly of all, no All Ireland minor title since 1994.
These are certainly troubled times in the Kingdom and the appointment of a new manger will generate great debate and will be keenly followed.
Donie Buckley in tandem with fitness guru Pat Flanagan would be many people’s choice for the job and they may just assume this most demanding of posts.
Hurlers progress under JBM
No such concerns for Cork hurling folk though as the management team of JBM and co has just completed their first year of a three-year stint.
Notwithstanding the five points defeat to Galway, most Cork hurling supporters will be happy following a year that saw them qualify for a league final and reach the penultimate stages of the championship.
Cork now are in the top four in the country but are behind Tipp, Kilkenny and Galway all three defeated them in the big games this year.
For Cork to progress to the top of the pile they need to unearth forwards in the mould of Ray Cummins, Tim Crowley, Brian Corcoran and Timmy McCarthy.
These men were able to win the 50/50 tussles and challenge in the aerial battles a la Kilkenny, Tipp and Galway.
The lack of physical power was glaringly obvious last Sunday and needs to be remedied. Whether those players are in the county is a moot point but it a safe bet that ultimate honours will not be achieved without power and strength up front.
The failures of our under age teams, adverted to above in our discussions re Kerry, are also coming into the equation here as well and an under age title is badly needed; 14 and 11 years, respectively, have passed since the under-21 and minor titles last graced Leeside and that hiatus is now having a deleterious effect on our senior team.
The county championship structures too need to be examined as this once proud competition has lost much of its lustre over the past few years.
The back door, especially the third chance has dulled the competitive aspect and diluted the do or die scenario where defeat resulted in instant dismissal from the competition.
A radical overhaul, with regular games and tangible rewards for the winners needs to be undertaken as Cork bids to regain its position as the foremost hurling county in the land.
This Sunday the second All Ireland semi final between Tipp and Kilkenny should attract huge interest as they clash for the fourth successive year although the last three have been in the decider.
Kilkenny were laboured in their defeat of a limited Limerick and will need to improve substantially to defeat Munster champions Tipperary.
Galway exposed a number of their shortcomings in the Leinster Final and while Limerick tried to replicate that they had neither the players or know how in how to succeed.
Tipp though are an entirely different proposition and their forwards will keep the Cats on their toes with constant movement and interchanging.
The return of Lar Corbett, who has a score to settle following last year’s All Ireland, will help Tipp who may also benefit from the absence of the suspended Richie Hogan. Much will depend on how effectively Kilkenny can close down the Tipp forwards.
JJ Delaney, Tommy Walsh and Jackie Tyrell will need to limit the effectiveness of Noel McGrath, Brian O’Meara and Corbett, as they did last year and if they do then a revenge mission against Galway in the final is on the cards for the Noresiders.
Failure to do so will allow Tipp notch the scores that should propel them to a first title decider against Galway since 2001, which they won.
Apart from Ilen Rovers, who went under to Avondhu, it was a good weekend for the West Cork teams in the senior championship.
Both Carbery Rangers and O’Donovan Rossa advanced with expected wins over Ballincollig and Aghada respectively while Dohenys were denied by a late equalising point from Donnacha O’ Connor, in their clash with Duhallow.
Bandon fly the Carbery flag this weekend with a premier intermediate hurling game against Carrigaline.
These sides clashed in the intermediate final a few years back with the latter triumphing so the Lilywhites will be seeking revenge.
They should manage to settle an old score.
There are four senior hurling games down for decision with Bride Rovers, Glen Rovers, Midleton and Na Piarsaigh getting the nod to account for Blackrock, Cloyne, Avondhu and Newtownshandrum respectively.
Most interest will undoubtedly focus on whether any new talent emerges to strengthen the county panel for the coming year.