John O'Rourke: U20 victory gave everyone in Cork football a vital lift

John O'Rourke: U20 victory gave everyone in Cork football a vital lift
Cork U20 graduate Cathail O'Mahony holds off Derry's Brendan Rogers. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CORK'S leading scorer in the victory over Derry at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday singled out the contribution of the youngsters from last season's All-Ireland U20 success.

John O'Rourke claimed both second-half goals as part of his game-high 2-2 in Cork's too-close-for-comfort 3-13 to 3-11 triumph.

The experienced Carbery Rangers player finished ahead of Damien Gore, who scored 1-3, and substitute Cathail O'Mahony, who came off the bench to hit 0-4.

Brian Hartnett. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Brian Hartnett. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“There's a big panel there and the U20 lads have really added an extra confidence to the group. They are after bedding in to the panel straight away. They are good lads, good footballers and are serious about their football.

“Damien, Cathail, Paul Ring and Maurice Shanley, on this occasion, are all playing with serious confidence,” O'Rourke commented.

Cork are benefitting from last season's Munster and All-Ireland victories as they sit on the verge of promotion back to Division 2.

“I've been playing a good while and at the start of the year we said it was up to the older players to set the example for the younger players and make them feel welcome.

“Not only that, but we got to a level last year, happy that we're moving in the right direction, but we want to go way beyond that this season.

“We showed them the habits that helped us improve last year and they have taken it on themselves.

“They played the U20 championship with a bit of a swagger and they've just kicked on with us.” 

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Competition for places in the match-day squad, not to mention the starting 15, is quite intense and that's with a lengthy injury list, as well.

“It's very strong at the moment. We've a lot of niggling injuries as well.

“You've top players like Ruairí Deane picking up a niggle on Thursday night and then you've Mark Collins and Brian Hurley coming back. Michael Hurley had also been out.

“Then we picked two more injuries with Liam O'Donovan and Luke Connolly, hamstrings it looked like. The next game will give someone else a chance to stake a claim.” 

The way Cork finished the game took some of the gloss off an otherwise impressive display, having been 3-12 to 1-8 in front on the hour.

“We're obviously happy to have won, but there is a tinge of disappointment with the way we finished out the game.

“I thought we were totally in control of the second-half and had built up a nice lead, so to be only scraping it by two points at the end was disappointing.

“It showed once again that we will have a lot to work on and it was the same in the previous game against Tipperary, four points ahead going into the last few minutes only to make hard work of it.

“I think we're switching off at the end of games as well as making individual errors.

“We were relatively happy at half-time, in control against a defensive team and I thought our running game was very good at the start of the second-half.

“I think it must be a concentration thing to be honest and those individual mistakes had a big bearing, too.

“Fellows were making decisions that they weren't at the start of the game, making silly decisions and we seemed to be all over the place at the back.”

O'Rourke's goals came after 45 and 60 minutes, but he was quick to praise others.

John O'Rourke. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
John O'Rourke. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

"I didn't have much to do for the first one because Sean Powter did all the work.

"That's one of our strengths, a very good attacking weapon in our half-back line.

"When we play against the wind we're able to run through teams and Sean really put it on a plate for me.

"The second goal came from a brilliant Paul Kerrign pass with the outside of his right boot which caught out the defender.

"He's very good at that kind of pass and I nearly had too much time because I almost made a mess of the finish. "I couldn't believe I had so much time, but it got there and those goals were the cushion."

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