Con O’Callaghan and James McCarthy in race against time for semi-finals

Dessie Farrell wouldn’t confirm the nature of their injuries but indicated that two weeks might not be enough

Dessie Farrell was oddly coy when it came to discussing the injuries that kept Con O’Callaghan and James McCarthy out of proceedings on Saturday night. Or, to put it another way, he flat out refused to tell us what they were.

We asked if, as the rumour mill seemed to be singing, they had both twanged hamstrings somewhere along the way. “I’d prefer not to say if that’s okay,” said the Dublin manager. Truly, the various secrets of Fatima have nothing on GAA managerial paranoia these days.

“Obviously it’s very disappointing for the lads themselves to miss out on today. And it had a huge impact on the team as well – captain and vice-captain and two rock solid players. So yeah, that was probably a factor in today’s overall performance for sure and for the next day.

“It’s part and parcel of the game at this level, injuries. And you have to be resilient. There’s a level of acceptance around them as well, so it’s pretty much a race against time now, two weeks. To be picking up an injury now at this time of year is tough and we’re all hands on deck in terms of our medical staff in terms of trying to get the lads right.”

For Cork manager John Cleary, it was a chastening evening all round. His team were just about in it at the break and needed to make inroads early in the second half but it all went in the opposite direction. It was a bracing reminder of how far off the pace Cork are in just about every category.

“You could see Dublin today, all their players that won the six-in-a-row, they were in fantastic physical condition, knew exactly how to play, knew exactly when to give the right ball, never shot when it wasn’t on. And hopefully there’s an awful lot of learnings for the guys inside the Cork dressing room that if they want to and can bring it forward. But that doesn’t matter if they can’t learn from what happened here and from what happened against Kerry, and try and get onto the next level

“Scorelines don’t lie. At the moment where we are is a mid-to-lower Division Two team. And that’s what the results have shown. Hopefully going forward, the idea is to get up to the top of Division Two and then maybe ultimately try and get into Division One. Because we know that a team has no hope of coming up here in quarter-finals and semi-finals unless you’re at the top of Division Two or competing in Division One.

“That’s where it’s at and that’s where you learn and that’s where the winning teams are going to come from. The next level that Cork need to get to is that, try and get up to the top of Division Two. And hopefully that can happen over the next couple of years. It’s going to take an awful lot of hard work to do that. So that’s the next item on the agenda.”

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin

Malachy Clerkin is a sports writer with The Irish Times