Sligo ready to face up to challenge of Cork

Manager Pat Flanagan knows side are up against it but side have a sense of purpose

 Sligo manager Pat Flanagan: well aware Cork are the overwhelming favourites in Saturday’s All-Ireland SFC Qualifier, but ready to meet the challenge. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Sligo manager Pat Flanagan: well aware Cork are the overwhelming favourites in Saturday’s All-Ireland SFC Qualifier, but ready to meet the challenge. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Fri, Jul 25, 2014, 01:00

The lamentations for the state of the game in Connacht have been loud and constant but as the football championship boils down to the last 12, the fact is three counties from the lonely west are still involved.

Sligo’s progression to this weekend’s action has been so low-key as to be almost invisible, which has suited Pat Flanagan and company just fine.

Ordinary in their home defeat to Galway, Sligo have enjoyed two notable qualifier wins – on the road against Wicklow and at home to Limerick to set them up for a quarter-final shoot-out against Cork.

Flanagan has always been a straight talker and doesn’t pretend his team aren’t facing a daunting challenge this Saturday. But he has brought to Sligo a renewed sense of purpose.

Momentum

“We have tried to work on our game; we try to be better in each game and just because we are playing Cork doesn’t mean we have to change the whole momentum of what we are doing. We have to believe in what we are doing as well.

“Our positional play has improved since the Galway match and we seem to be a lot more solid; we have conceded just 0-10 in the last two games and although we haven’t scored big, we did create some serious chances that we didn’t convert.”

But maintaining that momentum against Cork is, he concedes, a different matter.

“People look at the Cork-Kerry game. In my opinion, they are still potential All-Ireland winners so it is going to be very difficult for us.

“We are going to have to play a lot better and try and put pressure on them in the first 20 minutes and then hopefully sow a few seeds of doubt in Cork minds.

Touching distance

“Look, as we saw early against Dublin in the league match, they are capable of putting up very big scores. We would hope to stay in touching distance and be in there in the second half and hopefully cause them some problems.”

All other counties were knee-deep in November training patterns when Flanagan took a call from the Sligo county board offering him the position.

The Yeats county had struggled to find a successor to Kevin Walsh and Flanagan was at home feeling understandably confused by the cold way in which his services were terminated by Westmeath. He accepted the offer and immediately had to make up lost ground.

“So we didn’t have the greatest of league campaigns. I got the job at the end of November and then spent December trying to get a backroom team and get sheets for gym work and that sort of thing sorted for players and try and take what kind of training we were going to do which would compensate for the lack of pre-season training.

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