Cork have found themselves a fine full back 5 months ago

Cork have found themselves a fine full back

Cork have found themselves a full back.

On form, Jason Forde is one of the most lethal forwards in hurling but Robert Downey had the better of him. He's just 20 years of age, the Glen Rovers youngster, and he's only in his second year on the Cork senior team but in two weeks when Cork's last line were tested and vulnerable, the rookie Downey stood tall and he minded the gap.

This fella is more than just a defender.

While Jason Forde found out all about the intensity he pursues his opponents with, the best part of the Rebel's game is his hurling brain and his composure leaving the defence. Never did a pass go astray and he was deserting his station with conviction only.

It was open season stuff in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday night with Tipp and Cork going score for score and seemingly happy out in doing so. It's a forward's paradise when a game opens up and space is wide open like it was here, and John McGrath and Patrick Horgan had field days. But for defenders it's a very different game.

It's one-on-one battles and it's fend for yourself time. There ain't no hiding place inside the four white lines. And while Tipp are regularly heralded for their goal hungry approach, Downey and co. helped keep an albeit experimental forward line, away from Patrick Collins until a late penalty from Brian Hogan.

Number three was a stern, stubborn figure and Tipp didn't look like getting past him. Downey limited Forde to just a point from play and was a springboard for a number of Cork attacks with his vision on the way out. His first touch is secure and positive and he has plenty of pace about him.

As the game wore on, Forde drifted out and Downey moved to the corner but this lad can play across the six positions, let's not forget he was right half back for the Cork under-20s last year. It was Colm Spillane who guarded the house in those final moments as Tipp threatened a comeback, but Downey ended all hopes of that when winning a vital late free.

The Páirc crowd rose to acclaim the lanky back-man's guile and guts. Diarmuid 'The Rock' O'Sullivan punched the air.

It's early doors but 'The Glen' defender is showing all the signs of a man who's here to stay. He was just as dominant last weekend against Waterford and though Cork fans will be wary of a false dawn, they've had a few of them since the Rock departed the scene but with Downey going well and Spillane in fine form, maybe they are beginning to tighten up in the area where looseness has too often killed them.