Pre-match thoughts: Cork v. Dublin
Updated: Nov 7, 2020
Thursday, 5 November 2020, 19.30
A tricky proposition for a Cork team who may be low on confidence after an abysmal performance against Waterford. Cork still have not settled on a full- and centre-back, remain over-reliant on Patrick Horgan up front, and need Darragh Fitzgibbon back badly. Fitzgibbon is one of the best players in the game and Cork are entitled to have missed him, but pushing Mark Coleman into midfield to compensate was unsustainable as he's a pillar of this team in the half-back line.
Anthony Nash held off the eminently talented Patrick Collins in goal; Cork are spoilt for choice in that regard. Eoin Cadogan had become the regular full-back, but I'd be more inclined to back Damien Cahalane as he's a superb athlete and the only other member of the backline who looks comfortable there. He's not perfect, liable to do something rash, but could be coached to keep it simple and mind the house. Who to play centre-back is highly debatable but I'd be tempted to push Coleman in there until a more natural option emerges. Moreover, Cork have decent wing-back options to cover for Coleman's shift to the centre.
Image: Mark Schutte against Aidan Walsh.
Somewhat worrying about this Cork team is that the forward line lacks fresh blood, while consistency is also an issue. That said, they have some gems, such as Horgan, who, one could argue, is the best player in the game, and Seamus Harnedy, who possesses that most valuable characteristic of being able to play in every forward position with ease. Appreciating that lines and positions don't mean as much in the modern game, I'd be tempted to let Harnedy wear 11 and to play most of his hurling there. Putting a few players in (relatively) set positions can be valuable in giving a team some form, and inserting Harnedy at centre-forward would give them a pillar (and one that centre-backs would dread).
If Lehane and Cadogan could find consistent form, they'd be two of the best in the game. Horgan is as consistent as anyone in the game and aging like a fine wine; he has the look of an artist who enjoys what he's doing. Shane Kingston is an excellent player and a guy who Cork should invest in. Luke Meade only came on as a sub against Waterford but he's a player who I'd start every day. He's under-appreciated, has a deft touch, and intelligently links play. He could effectively partner with Bill Cooper in midfield.
Image: Patrick Horgan.
Dublin were plucky against Kilkenny, after a disastrous first half. With the all-action Chris Crummey and slick Danny Sutcliffe, Dublin have mobile, energic forwards who are a real problem for opposition defenders. Donal Burke looks silky and threatens the opposition with his instinct to run where it hurts them. Liam Rushe coming off the bench is also a threat and, given Cork's lack of a settled full-back, I'd start him full-forward and instruct him to be as disruptive as possible.
Prediction: I'd strongly fancy Cork, but if they are off form again, this Dublin team is very fit and enthusiastic and, if they smell blood, Cork could be in for a scare coming down the stretch.