Analysis: Cork come close but fail to keep the critics at bay

Cuthbert is left vexed, while Kerry’s leaky form continues to cause problems

Kerry’s Jonathon Lyons and Kevin O’Dricoll of Cork at the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Final in  Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Kerry’s Jonathon Lyons and Kevin O’Dricoll of Cork at the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship Final in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

 
Brian Cuthbert

Winning a Munster title wouldn’t be enough to permanently silence their critics but it would offer a forceful rebuttal at least. Brian Cuthbert cut an understandably vexed figure after this draw.

His team did enough to become the first Cork team to lift silverware in Killarney for 20 years but for all their good work, they are right back where they started. And Kerry aren’t all that great about the second chances. Cuthbert smiled later on when asked if it was time that people laid-off about Cork now.

“I don’t know. That is people’s opinion and it seems to go with the territory. I see it in other counties now too. You are under pressure and in the spotlight basically. It goes with the territory. People would have been very happy if we won today. We haven’t won so people are going out the gate in much the same frame as they came in.”

The performance was good enough to deserve a strong Cork presence here again in a fortnight. Cuthbert summed up the conflicting emotions of his county men.

“Disappointed, I thought we had it. Absolutely delighted with how the players play, the effort, the spirit and heart they showed. There’s no such thing as deserving to win matches really but today I felt we had done enough to win. Disappointed coming away with the fact that we haven’t won but it’s half time in the game, its level in the game, and we go again.”

Kerry’s second-half penalty was the chief talking point of the day and as his players filed out for some refreshments, the manager was still exercised by the thought of it.

Second Captains

Strong wind

Eamonn Fitzmaurice also acknowledged that he had been told that the penalty was “soft”. But goals conceded rather than scored were Kerry’s main problem. Their leaky league form has carried through to the championship and Fitzmaurice grinned when asked if it that was a problem.

“It obviously is if they’re scoring goals. The game was so helter-skelter that it’s hard for me to remember exactly everything that was going on. There’s an awful lot we can improve on for Saturday week and that we need to improve on. We saw what Cork are capable of.”

Negativity

Cork will prepare for the replay with more complex emotions. So much went right for them here, from Barry O’Driscoll’s role as a converted wing back to the crafty display by senior figures like Donncadh O’Connor and Alan O’Connor. Now, Cork will have to come up with something different.

“Every time you play Kerry, you’re facing a very good team,” Cuthbert said.

“Last year they absolutely opened us up, this year, this game, I thought we defended well enough. We still haven’t won the game and in the dressing-room they’ll be saying ‘Cork played well, we didn’t, and they still haven’t beaten us’. We have to come back here and we just have to win and it’s something I think we’re capable of doing once we play.”

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