Rebel boss McCarthy: Confidence comes from consistency in games

Rebel boss McCarthy: Confidence comes from consistency in games
Paul Kerrigan racing past Kildare's Eoin Doyle in 2015 at Semple Stadium. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

IF you told Cork coach Ronan McCarthy at the start of the year that defeating Laois would be enough to reach the Super 8s he'd have accepted it with unbridled enthusiasm and excitement.

Not that you'd have noticed such emotions earlier in the week, when shooting the breeze with local hacks. And rightly so, too, because Cork are not at the stage to take any opponent lightly.

It's all of six years since Cork last contested an All-Ireland quarter-final, pushing Mayo to the brink before losing by the minimum margin in 2014, having overcome Sligo in the qualifiers.

Since then, Tyrone, Mayo, Donegal and Kildare had Cork's measure in varying degrees. They were due a break in the draw and got it. Now, Cork must deliver.

“Thank God we have two weeks,” McCarthy sighed after the heroic exertions of his players in the cauldron of the Munster final defeat by Kerry.

“There's such a build up to these finals for weeks and weeks and you're ratcheting it up so much that there is automatically a lull after it.

“I reckon it does take the bones of three or four days to get back into the run of things.

“In 2015, we lost to Kerry in a replay and were out the following week against Kildare.

Picture: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE
Picture: Stephen McCarthy/SPORTSFILE

“You wonder had we any chance really? It is an awful ask of a team to go out six days later on the back of a defeat, but, luckily, we don't have that now.” 

The difference to 12 months ago is marked and not just because Cork suffered a hammering in the provincial final, but health-wise, too, as McCarthy explained.

“We got a bug in the squad the week of the Tyrone game which affected about half of the players.

“We never mentioned it at the time and you recall it was the hottest day of the year, sweltering conditions.

“We had 10,12, 14 players in fairly poor shape in relation to hydration and everything else.

“I'm not saying we would have the game because we were comprehensively beaten, but maybe any opportunity we had to take the fight to Tyrone was beyond us.”

Cork observed Laois in action in their win over Offaly a week ago. Brothers Donie and Paul Kingston, scorers of 0-10 between them, and Ross Munnelly, will need minding up front while midfielders John O'Loughlin and Kieran Lillis are capable operators.

In defence, full-back Denis Booth and centre-back Robert Pigott are important figures in keeping Laois tight and compact.

“They have always been a county with talented players and they have them now, especially up front. Laois are going to be a handful for us.

“Sean Hayes and Eddie Kirwan were at their game last weekend and it's great to have someone there looking at our opponents.

“But, as I've said before, a lot of work is done on video analysis, watching clips and going through them.

“Yet, we must focus on ourselves and we spent the immediate time after the Kerry game looking at aspects which we weren't happy with and that was the same this week, as well.

“I'm only talking about 1% here, 2% margins which would have got us over the line.

“Looking back on it we were solely responsible ourselves for not winning because there was very little in it.

“Small decisions, better execution and we might have got over the line. I take confidence from the consistency of performance.

“It's important that continues tomorrow, that we're competitive, consistent and will perform to a seven or eight out of 10 regardless of the opposition every time.

“Once we recognise that, learn from it and apply it then, hopefully, we will benefit.

“Consistency of performance is the key because with that you come into the game knowing more than hoping of giving an account of yourself. And if we do that we will be handful for any team, including Laois.”

It's the two Cs, consistency and competitiveness, which McCarthy has been hammering home as the main message not to his players, but to everyone else, as well.

Another important word beginning with the letter C is confidence, which is linked to the others in completing the list.

“I believe consistency comes from confidence in winning games and being competitive in games.

“It's a vicious cycle. One thing feeds the other. We're more settled as a group, panel and team wise."

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