So Cork-Donegal felt like a massive game even then, two awesome teams at different periods of their development and the two best teams that year by far; it’d go on to be even more seismic for both counties. From memory, the first half felt like a classic, both sides going at each other with contrasting ways of playing, score for score kind of thing.
But Cork did do a lot right in that first half, working so hard to avoid carrying ball into Donegal’s traps. They changed the angles of attack almost in a paranoid way, moved the ball manically at times out of that contact zone of bodies around the D.
Cork, a team that normally thrived by overpowering opposition, wanted to avoid the battle zones and were trying to find spaces without contact.
Colm McFadden kicked a point on the loop. Frank McGlynn kicked a score from a silly Cork loss of possession in the middle third. By the time Karl Lacey sneaked in to put them four points up, Cork were visibly shattered, mentally especially, to the point where they couldn’t track a runner.
That was Donegal’s power that year, they would do the same to the Dubs in 2014.
We all cribbed a little at the time about this Cork side not quite achieving what they might, about some persistent tactical weaknesses. The game moved on. Cork haven’t beaten Kerry or reached an All-Ireland semi-final since.