Cork’s 2019 Munster Hurling Championship campaign got off to a rocky start as they fell to a seven-point defeat against Tipperary in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Liam Sheedy’s men rolled back the years Leeside to record their first win in the province since 2016 much to the dismay of the current back-to-back Munster champions.
Following Cork’s loss, Diarmuid O’Sullivan took umbrage with the performance of the referee, Sean Cleere. The Kilkenny man pulled up Tipperary on a number of occasions in the first-half as Cork hit 0-8 from placed balls, however, his second-half performance left a lot to be desired according to the Paddy Power GAA Hurling Ambassador.
O’Sullivan felt the referee let a lot go in the second-half, reffing it completely different to the first.
“There was a lot of cynicism from the Tipperary backs let go in the second half. Sean Cleere seems to ignore the clear pulls and trips on the Cork forwards. It’s like someone had a word in his ear at half time because he reffed the second half completely different from the first.
“There’s no doubt that the leeway he gave Tipp to be cynical helped them to victory. He won’t be on Cork’s Christmas card list, that’s for sure.”
The four-time All-Star also took issue with Cork’s forward division following a lacklustre performance up front. Patrick Horgan was praised by John Meyler afterwards but the Cork manager was also aware that his side were too reliant on the Glen Rovers man.
O’Sullivan singled out the performance of Seamus Harnedy who he felt went missing for most of the game despite scoring 1-2.
“Seamus Harnedy got 1-02, but to be honest, I thought he went missing for a lot of the game. I’d actually rate Shane Kingston higher than him.
“Kingston finished with three points and was fouled on numerous occasion. He also got no reward from the officials as more fouls on him went unpunished, but at least he carried a threat.
“Harnedy got a point in the first minute, a goal with five minutes to go and a point somewhere in between – where was he for the rest of it?”
The Cloyne man was also critical of Anthony Nash whose puck-outs lead to numerous Tipperary scores, as well as Conor Lehane, who O’Sullivan feels needs to stand up against Limerick next week.
“The rest of the forwards were ineffective and that’s very worrying. Tipperary also stifled Cork’s puck-outs and that was due to the unselfish work of their forwards. When the ball went dead, they sprinted to pick up a man.
“So if your six forwards aren’t willing to do the work and your midfield isn’t dropping back to help your defence, then you are in trouble. Nash will probably be more disappointed than anyone with his puck-outs, four or five Tipp scores came directly from them.
“Conor Lehane also need to stand up next Sunday and be the player we all expected him to be if Cork are to get anything out of the Limerick game.”