"Yeah you've a system to play, but there are 1000 variables in a game of hurling." 1 year ago

"Yeah you've a system to play, but there are 1000 variables in a game of hurling."

Kyle Hayes went right and two Cork defenders went left.

It was a mistake, it was unfortunate, it was only a moment in time but, in many ways, it was symptomatic of how Cork hurled on Sunday and how they've been hurling for the last two years.


And that's not a derogatory comment. As All-Ireland finalists last year and League finalists this year, they could be doing a whole lot worse but whatever way you look at it, and whether you've seen them on good days or bad days, there's no denying the fact. It's a strange style that they have.

On paper - as they protect possession and for the most part, only pass it on when, lifting the head, they see a Cork man and they see a 70% chance that he's going to retain this ball - it seems like seems a low-risk game. On paper, it might seem that you'll get away with playing ball players in key defensive positions. On grass it's a different story.

Limerick proved it last August and they proved it again on Sunday. Retaining possession sounds danger-free in the tactics room but in reality, in the cauldron that is inter-county hurling, it is one of the hardest things to do. Because, as Sean O'Donoghue will have learned that from Aaron Gillane's goal on Sunday, sometimes a hail Mary is a safer bet than keep-ball.

"It's too basic to think Cork can win an All-Ireland when they're behaving that way in those situations," says GAA Hour host Diarmuid Lyng on the Hurling Show.


"If there's two fellas going to one man," he says of Cahalane's and Coleman's mess-up for Hayes' goal, "and he jinks left, and the two of them go left, like that fella, to me now, that's enough, I've seen enough of him. I can't look at him anymore because if he's going to make such a basic error, what other mistakes is he going to make?"

"It's not something you'd have seen with Kilkenny, it's one of the basics of the game they always get right. It's that little bit of cuteness, it's more than cuteness, it's one of the simple things that you have to do very well and is often not done very well. It's something that Kilkenny wouldn't have done, something that Paudie Maher wouldn't have done for Tipp. We (Wexford) did it plenty but still, you'd be frustrated at a fella for doing it.

"But if you've two fellas going to one man," he continues.

"One takes the left, one takes the right, it's simple enough - what can he do? Whereas Cahalane went left, slipped because he went left, but he shouldn't have gone left. Coleman was already left."


Former Kilkenny hurler James Ryall goes back to the basics of the game. You keep goal-side of your man, you protect your goals.

"You have to shepherd him out. If you're down training young lads, under-7 or under-9, you're always telling the defenders to stand goal-side. In that situation, you'd say one left, one right. And I'd say, if you're going to change that, maybe both right. But definitely not both left.


"I'd love to know what they're doing, hurling wise, on their own field. Like when Kyle Hayes won that ball, I think the boys were expecting him to turn back out the field. Because that's what a Cork forward does in training. It seemed like the last thing they thought he'd do was turn around and head straight for goal."

Paudie Maher, meanwhile, feels that Cork's problems lie in the spine of their team. They need a 3 and they need a 6.

"If you're six, in that situation, and his marker went with him - I was always taught anyway, head straight back towards the goal, so you're another body between Hayes and the goal. Hayes might still have got through, but then he might have held him up another second for someone else to come in and help. Coleman is a fantastic hurler, but I don't think he's a six. And Cork are caught for a three and a six."


We'll leave the last word to Diarmuid Lyng, who feels it all comes back to the style and the principles.

"That Cork style is fine, but there are things that some styles of play just don't allow for. The elements, the wind. When you have the wind, how does it make any sense to adopt a fully passing and running game. There's this rigidity in these overly professional coaches who are on the trail who are saying I have a system to play. Yeah you've a system to play, but there are 1000 variables in a game of hurling."