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Tipperary v. Cork: All at stake for Sheedy

Updated: Nov 14, 2020

Wednesday, 11 November 2020, 19.30

Tipperary have it all to lose. These are two evenly balanced teams showing unsure form. Cork were abysmal in losing their first-round game against Waterford but found their feet to comfortably negotiate Dublin. They managed to work out elements of their formation, including Luke Meade securing a midfield spot with his usual subliminal but valuable performance. Also, Cork will have Conor Lehane on the bench, a luxury sub.

Damien Cahalane has priors as a guy who can successfully mark Seamus Callanan and will likely take up that detail again, thereby freeing up Colm Spillane and Sean O’Donoghue to play in the corners where they are entirely happy. There are still question marks over Robert Downey and Tim O'Mahony at the top level, and Cork could do with an established centre-back.

Image: Tim O'Mahony and Brendan Maher.

Meade has shored up midfield, and he's a player I would start every day. His intelligence, use of the ball, clever linking passes, and hurling intelligence that hurts the opposition consistently are to be used to maximum effect, therefore midfield is a good placement for him. If Darragh Fitzgibbon is fit, Meade could easily shift into the forward line.

The Cork forwards are starting to take shape. Robbie O'Flynn is in flying form and a good wing-forward is a beautiful thing. Séamus Harnedy is excellent and consistent, Shane Kingston is blossoming and developing reliability, and Patrick Horgan is arguably one of the best forwards of all time. Completing the set, Jack O'Connor, a lithe, crafty ciotóg looked very promising against Dublin, while Declan Dalton brings some brawn and a killer left side. Lehane and Alan Cadogan (if fit) are subs that most backs, with 50 minutes already in their legs, will not want to mark.

Tipperary will make a maniacal effort to win this game. Liam Sheedy and Eamon O'Shea -- Tipp's managerial power couple -- have been in this corner before, where they've had their backs to the wall and had to win, such as losing to Cork in their first round in 2010 before going on to win the All-Ireland. Sheedy will have his team motivated to the point of explosion.

A loss for Tipperary would take plenty of gloss off last year's All-Ireland win, and would cast considerable doubts over many of their elder players' futures. A win would put them into the quarter-finals where they would probably play Waterford (as likely Munster runners-up) or Kilkenny (as less-likely Leinster runners-up), and against both Tipp would fancy themselves.

Image: Goal mouth action from February's league game.

In terms of Tipperary's lineout, Sheedy has a history of adapting and evolving his team with each game and the Limerick beating will surely catalyze some change. It will be interesting to see if the old guard are backed again, or if there'll be some radical change. For some of the younger players, such as Jason Forde and John McGrath, some might say that it's time that they took over the mantle from the older players and led a new team forward.

Prediction: These teams are very evenly balanced and their form is hard to gauge. I'd have a slight fancy for Cork but it's a marginal call based on the fact that they were able to work out some kinks against Dublin, and only they and Kilkenny have beaten Limerick in the past two years so they have shown the ability to cull a favourite. They are also coming in with less to lose than Tipp. Cork by a point.

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