What Dublin hurlers must do to beat Cork

Its going to be a very tight battle on Sunday and Sean Cremin looks at the major things Anthony Daly will have to do if his Dublin hurlers are to beat Cork in Sundays All-Ireland hurling semi-final.

Start well

They have had a five week lay-off since their Leinster final victory. Prior to the Leinster final, they played five games in five weeks and it proved to be an advantage. They were much sharper than Galway and they were battle-hardened. The match practice really stood to them and the long break is a possible worry. The fact that they had such an elusive win would also have led to celebrations so the lack of match practice could be a disadvantage.

Dublin must get off to a good start against Cork. Cork got off to a flyer against Kilkenny which really set the template for their win and one must anticipate that they will attempt to do the same against the Dubs. Dublin must be on their toes all over the field and start well. They have done so in previous games, particularly David O’Callaghan at corner-forward, and the big question is if their long break will affect their ability to start well.

Get more scores from their half-forward’s

They have posted relatively big scoring tallies so far this season. 2-25 against Galway would be enough to win almost any game and they will need to aim for a similar return if they are to go further. Paul Ryan and David O’Callaghan have been very good at providing scores and I think Dublin could be a real problem for Cork if their half-forward line could contribute more on the score board.

The line of Conal Keaney, Ryan O’Dwyer and Danny Sutcliffe are three very good players. Their work rate is excellent but they all also have good scoring ability. If they could manage to combine their hard working style of play with two or three scores then they would be a very effective line. Sutcliffe in particular has a great eye for goal, as does Keaney. If they could get themselves into better scoring positions, they would be a real force.

Impose themselves physically 

Dublin do have a physical advantage over Cork. They are a much bigger side they will more than likely try to impose themselves on the game using their physicality. Players like Peter Kelly, Liam Rushe, Joey Boland, Conal Keaney and Ryan O’Dwyer carry a physical threat in different areas of the field. Cork lack physicality but they have succeeded in compensating elsewhere. It will be interesting to see what type of approach Dublin will take.

Last season, they over focused on physical preparation as they approached their game with Kilkenny and it was an approach that totally backfired. They tried to approach the game so they could take on Kilkenny, man for man, but they failed to cope with Kilkenny and they were hurled off the field. They have found a more balanced approach for this year and they have seen an improvement. I wonder will they get carried away on the physical approach again now that they face a team that are smaller in size. I think they will try to physically intimidate Cork. If they can use their physicality effectively, I think they can cause problems for Cork but they must not overdo it.

Stop Patrick Horgan

Horgan is Cork’s main marksman and Dublin will need to try and stop him. Cork will be looking to creating a greater spread of scores but there is no doubt that Horgan will be the man the Dublin will be looking at. Dublin coped quite well with the threat of Joe Canning against Galway but they allowed players like Rory Jacob, Walter Walsh and Richie Power to enjoy scoring against them so they will need to tighten up, particularly on Horgan.

Peter Kelly has a big role to play here. I would imagine that he is the man that Dublin will give the responsibility to when it comes to marking Horgan. He has become a very good man-marker in recent years and Dublin will hope that his good run of form will continue. Kelly is an excellent player; he has a big presence, great athleticism and good pace that allow him to cope well with the very best. He will have a big role to play if Dublin are to win.

The most important thing for Dublin is that they believe in themselves. It is new territory for everyone associated with this Dublin side. They are entering an All-Ireland semi-final as Leinster champions, and they are also favourites to reach an All-Ireland final. While they have played in minor finals in recent years, this is totally different. They lost a semi-final to Tipperary in 2011, giving a good account of themselves and that experience should stand to them.

The question is whether Dublin will believe in themselves enough. There is no doubt that Cork will believe in their ability to win. It’s natural for Cork people to believe that they will win an All-Ireland semi-final, particularly against Dublin. If Dublin fall behind, will they believe that they can turn it around? Or on the other hand, if they are leading will they believe that they can repel a Cork comeback? One thing that will help is having Anthony Daly, a man who has done it as a player, as manager. Will he be able to transfer this belief into his players? We will find out sooner rather than later.


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