THERE’S a strongly held viewpoint that sometimes a team, and a team management, learn more from a defeat than from a victory.
It’s really a matter of opinion, but that can well be the case. How well you react to one bad day reveals an awful lot about the state of affairs within the camp.
A perfect example of the aforementioned theory was the Cork hurlers in Semple Stadium last Saturday against Dublin.
A week earlier against Waterford in the Munster Championship, the best way to describe the proceedings was that it was a bad day at the office.
Fortunately, and unlike the football championship this season, there was an opportunity to right the wrongs of that 70 minutes for both the players and the team management.
It was glaringly obvious from the first day that changes were necessary and that the management had a job on their hands to instill into the players that they were much better than they had shown against Waterford.
Simply put, big calls had to be made; you were entering the last chance saloon against Dublin and failure a second time would not have painted a pretty picture for Cork hurling.
But credit where it’s due. A week earlier the flak had been flying in all directions, there was considerable criticism of the performance against Waterford and the keyboard warriors had a field day.
Well, there was only one way to silence that criticism, some of it had been justified, more of it not, and that was to put in a performance against Dublin that would yield the desired result.
And, to be fair, that’s exactly what transpired from the throw-in last Saturday, again in an empty stadium, one could sense the urgency in the Cork set-up.
There was much more intensity on the ball and bodies were being put on the line a lot more.
One-third of the team that had started against Waterford did not start this time, some left out, others not available through injury.
And the changes that were made certainly had the desired effect.
Erin’s Own’s Robbie O’Flynn came in for his first game in eight months, having served a one-match ban for being dismissed in a league outing.
And what a shift he put in. His obvious pace was seen to good effect from an early juncture and his eye was in too, rifling over five points from play.
Colm Spillane came into the defence to add greater experience and stability and the likelihood is that he’ll be even better the next day.
Luke Meade came into midfield and was honest throughout with his effort while in attack you had Jack O’Connor and Deccie Dalton being handed their chance too.
Both made their own contributions, Dalton banging in the game’s only goal and scoring a point too and, while replaced after 53 minutes, he’ll have reason to be satisfied with his effort.
O’Connor set up the goal for him, scored a point as well and showed enough to suggest he’ll play a big role going forward in this team’s development.
Staying with the team’s attack unit, it had to be very positive for the management to see Seamus Harnedy having his best game in a Cork jersey for some time.
This was very near to the old Harnedy, working hard and having a considerable impact on the scoreboard with a haul of five points, that can only be good news.
You could say, without fear of being contradicted, that Mark Coleman was the best player on the sod of Semple.
He was simply awesome in everything that he did and his appetite for the fray was exactly the kind of thing that is crucial to any team.
You could really fault no Cork player because of the way they applied themselves and it won’t be a surprise if the status quo prevails with the team selection for the next day.
Again that will depend on injuries.
And on that subject, it must be noted and repeated that Darragh Fitzgibbon’s absence would be felt by any team remaining in this championship. The Charleville player, playing at the top end of his game, would be a huge asset and like Coleman, he’s so much part of the future of this team.
In the final minutes last Saturday, young Shane Barrett from Blarney got onto the field and that was a good move by the management. His stay was short, but the experience will benefit him.
Dublin were poor, there’s no doubt about that and their second-half display against Kilkenny a week previous wasn’t replicated
No doubt, Cork were probably very wary of them in advance of the game because of the exploits against the Cats so it was vital to take the game to them from the off and not give them any sort of a significant foothold.
Cork did this and for the most part, they kept it up. Yes, lessons were learned and the response from everybody within the Cork camp was very positive.
Consistency has been a Cork problem in the past, from game to game and within games.
Now the big ask will be to maintain, at the very least, the performance put in last Saturday against Tipp.
For now, reasons for cautious optimism.