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Newcomer Kevin Crowley of Cork in action against Paul Whyte of Waterford at Fraher Field on Saturday evening. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Newcomer Kevin Crowley of Cork in action against Paul Whyte of Waterford at Fraher Field on Saturday evening. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Veteran O'Connor: I don't care if I'm playing once the Cork footballers are winning

Mark Woods

Football

YOU have to hand it to Donncha O'Connor. I mean, who at the ripe old age of 36, would want to be still playing inter-county football in its current state?

But, the Ballydesmond player remains as committed and as enthusiastic as ever and just as well because without him Cork would have been in an even bigger pickle in Dungarvan on Saturday evening.

Not for the first time, O'Connor answered the SOS call, when summoned from the dug-out after 45 minutes with Waterford leading by a point, 1-5 to 1-4, and Cork struggling.

His first shot rebounded off a post before adding three crucial points, including a beauty off his left just after the hour to nudge Cork in front once more.

And he didn't hold back either when shooting the breeze with a few inquisitors afterwards in what turned out to be a very refreshing chin-wag.

Cork experienced great difficulty in finding a way through Waterford's massed ranks of players, often with all 15 dropping back over half-way.

“I don't think we went for the game in the first-half. We weren't going at 100% and seemed to be going at 80%.

“That's the way it looked from the sideline. Obviously it's different when you're playing. You feel as if you're going full tilt.

“It's hard to break down. You probably must go at pace and you can't go straight into the wall of defenders either.

“I thought we were breaking up the field pretty well, but once we got to their wall I thought we slowed it down, which suited Waterford.

“It was different in the second-half. There was more buzz to us and we could have scored a couple of goals early on which would have given us some breathing space.

“We know that performance won't be good enough against Tipperary in two weeks' time. We do need to improve,” O'Connor said.

Cork's struggles drew comparisons with the shock defeat by Tipp 12 months ago, the first in 72 years.

Waterford had beaten Cork since 1960 and O'Connor admitted it played on their minds during that tense finish.

“You wouldn't be human if that didn't enter your head. I was thinking with seven or eight minutes to go our game with Tipp ain't going to happen.

“Next thing, you get the ball back and you're thinking, 'of course it's going to happen.'

“It creeps into everyone's mind. You always think of things in the negative, but you can't dwell on it either.” 

 Duhallow's Donncha O'Connor shoots from Brian Coffey and Diarmuid Lester in last year's SFC. He showed his class, at 36, again last weekend. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Duhallow's Donncha O'Connor shoots from Brian Coffey and Diarmuid Lester in last year's SFC. He showed his class, at 36, again last weekend. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

O'Connor's major influence in Cork's 1-12 to 1-11 victory had us wondering whether he should in from the start and not always asked to put out fires. His response was fascinating.

“I don't think so, to be honest. All that matters is Cork win. If I don't play another minute in the championship for the rest of the year, it won't bother me.

“When you're younger you might think that. I want to be playing all the time and you're greedy.

“I just want Cork to win. Whether that means playing or not playing, obviously you want to be playing, it won't affect me training or playing,” he declared.

Is there a confidence issue in the squad? Drawing league games which they could/should have won is bound to impact on top of the fall-out from last season's relegation and early championship exit.

Colm O'Neill scoring just a pointed free against a division four side would have been considered absurd beforehand, but it happened.

He and captain Paul Kerrigan missed goal-chances which they'd normally tuck away without any fuss.

“Winning those games we ended up drawing in the league would have helped. We got a win here and training has been going well.

“It's hard to say if confidence is a problem. I don't think it is. Other people might say it is. I don't know.”

Finding positives was a difficult task, but O'Connor pointed to the finish. "With 10 minutes to go it didn't look we were going to win the game, but we dug in there. We could easily have said 'we're not going to get over the line here'.