UCC manager, Billy Morgan, felt his side’s one-point victory over NUIG was deserved and praised his reigning champions.
“I think it was a thoroughly deserved victory. We fell 0-4 to 0-0 behind, then got to grips with their strengths and played some very, very good football ourselves.
“Getting two great goals cut them open a bit and then, in the end, it was just sheer heart and spirit, because we were short six senior inter-county players, there today, thanks to Croke Park,” Morgan said.
NUIG forward Dessie Conneely missed a free that would have sent the game to extra-time and Morgan was displeased with the amount of stoppage time.
“There was supposed to be three minutes’ injury time; the referee played six. Admittedly, he got injured himself. We thought there’d be one extra minute, but I think he was trying to play on until they got the equaliser and they almost did,” he said.
The legendary Cork manager had strong words about scheduling, as three of his players were in action for their club the day before.
“A couple of years ago, they closed December and January. Now, they’re squeezing everything into January. They start this competition and colleges are not open until next week. Over the Christmas period, we had no preparation whatsoever.
“As well as that, then, you have the All-Ireland club Championship. We had three players playing yesterday. One started, Killian Spillane, and you could see how he was exhausted at the end. Diarmuid O’Connor did come on and Graham O’Sullivan couldn’t play,” Morgan says.
“The McGrath Cup was on and they’ve started an U20 league and the National League is starting before the end of January. The inter-county teams have to train for that and prepare for that, particularly with the way Croke Park have structured the thing, that it’s only the top two divisions get into the Sam Maguire.
"It’s becoming an elite association that is just catering for inter-county and clubs; third-level and second-level are all suffering,” he said.
Morgan felt there was nothing wrong with the league commencing in March and that the Cork management are right to prioritise promotion from Division 3, and avoid playing in a tier two competition.
“What was wrong with starting the National League in March? I’m sure most managers would prefer a National League to start later; that would bring them into the Championship.
"Cork have to get promoted or else they are not in the All-Ireland, so I don’t blame them in the slightest,” Morgan said.