Cork have learned to 'work it out'

 

WHETHER CORK manager Conor Counihan was smiling in relief or in resignation at his team’s latest emergence in one piece after an unconvincing display is probably best indicated by his firm statement that there’s no such thing as an undeserved win.

“At the end of the day it’s a results business. I sat here last September – the best team won. The best team always wins,” he said, referring to last year’s All-Ireland final against Kerry, which had ended an often-impressive season in crushing defeat.

“I’m just very, very relieved. It was a titanic struggle. Dublin really put it up to us, as we knew they would. We showed a bit of bottle. But we wouldn’t want to do it like that again. We’ve an awful lot of work to do now.

“We created a lot of opportunities in that first half which we should have finished. If we did, it might have made life easier. But Dublin were never going to go away.”

Qualifying for a third final in four years still on the trail of a first All-Ireland for the current team was satisfying, but there will be concern in the weeks ahead as captain Graham Canty, a surprise selection after sustaining a hamstring tear in the quarter-finals, had to retire at the break

“It was tight enough starting Graham. But we were happy during the week that it looked good enough. We wouldn’t have chanced him if we didn’t think that. We probably got a half hour out of it. It was a gamble.

“He would have aggravated it in the closing stages of the first half. It’s too early to say at the moment.

“We’ll have to get the medical people in, so it won’t be tomorrow until we finally know, but the fact that it’s reoccurring isn’t a very positive thing.”

The one unalloyed positive to be taken was simply that the team is still there and the manner in which the result was achieved. Form hasn’t been good this year and yesterday brought no great advance on that, but any side that concedes a goal within two minutes and trails from then until minutes before the end clearly has acquired some self-belief and ability to win.

“People have questioned us down through the last year,” said Counihan, “and we’ve had to dig ourselves out in Wexford, Limerick and different places. The important thing is we have learned to dig, and that’s something that’s been important for the team to know. When things get rough we have to get in there and work it out.

“Maybe it’s just like horses, they wait until the finish to get their noses ahead. But I wouldn’t want to be backing too many of them. We realise we’ve work to do, a lot of work to do for four weeks.

“We’ll focus on that now. People will criticise us and maybe rightly so at times.

“But the reality is that we haven’t gone away in a number of years and we’re not going to go away for a while yet.”