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Eoin Larkin Column: Austin Gleeson Needs To Play For The Team


I was disappointed with Waterford on Sunday. I knew they were going to set up with the sweeper but to me, Derek McGrath hasn’t progressed with this Waterford project. Playing this style was alright in his first year to steady the ship but he hasn’t really moved on.

I know they were within a puck of a ball of beating Kilkenny last year but the same old failings were there. They went back to the sweeper which drew teams onto them. For me, a sweeper is there to protect your full-back and the goal, not to give away goal chances.

Cork had three very, very good opportunities to raise green flags in the first half and only for Stephen O’Keefe in the Waterford goal there would have been goals. It’s not benefitting them, it’s not doing what it’s supposed to do so why they keep playing with it, I do not know.

McGrath doesn’t seem to want to progress, he seems happy with what he’s doing and he’s going to keep on doing it.

He doesn’t know Austin Gleeson’s best position. To me, Gleeson is not being managed. I think the 2016 Hurler of the Year should have a serious chat with Derek McGrath, who needs to outline what he wants from his star man.

At the moment, Gleeson is not playing for the team. He’s going for these long range points when there’s only a 40-50% chance of getting it instead of playing it into his forwards and making it an 80-90% chance that it’s going to go over the bar.

I could even see on Sunday, the Waterford forwards have stopped making the runs that they used to make because they know that the ball is not going to come in when Gleeson gets it.

There are a lot of decisions to be made from the management.

Having said all that, they can regroup, but a few problems need to be addressed.

They have a very good team with very good hurlers. The teamwork that the Déise showed over the last few years seems to be lacking. They’re not working as hard as they can for each other. Maybe that’s down to forwards not getting the ball, they might be saying, “you’re not hitting the ball into me so I’m not going to work as hard.”

They need to go away from the sweeper. Conor Lehane had a field day on Sunday on Tadhg de Búrca because de Búrca just stepped off him.

De Búrca wasn’t as influential on Sunday because Cork played down the wings. They need to have a good meeting and a bit of honesty mightn’t go astray and definitely they need to go away from the sweeper.

McGrath needs to really trust his players; let them go out 15-on-15.

I was impressed with Cork on Sunday, but they didn’t hit the heights of their victory over Tipperary.

In saying that, they were very professional in their approach to the game and the way they played in the game. Most of the younger lads didn’t have such a great game as against Tipp, but the likes of Conor Lehane and Mark Coleman were outstanding. The Rebels have a lot of things to work on before the Munster final, but they’ll be very happy with where they’re at.

Munster GAA Hurling Senior Championship Semi-Final, Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co. Tipperary 18/6/2017 Cork vs Waterford Cork’s Conor Lehane with Austin Gleeson of Waterford Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

The Munster final will be a big change in that they will enter the tie as favouirtes, but I think Kieran Kingston and his management team have done a fantastic job keeping the lid on them, especially after the win against Tipperary.

Like I said, they weren’t as good against Waterford as they were against Tipperary but they put in a solid performance and that’s what it’s all about. They didn’t do a whole lot wrong, they just weren’t as flamboyant as they had been.

We spoke about consistency and I think they finally achieved this with their win yesterday. The Rebels worked hard for each other, they got great scores and there was no way they were going to lose the game.

To bring that on to another level now against Clare is the challenge. Everybody there will fancy their chances against Clare because they have put back-to-back performances together. They’ll go into the Munster final as favourites and deservedly so. It’s a new challenge now for this management team.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.