WATCH: Determined Cork football boss Ronan McCarthy is only looking ahead

WATCH: Determined Cork football boss Ronan McCarthy is only looking ahead
Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

NATURALLY, all involved with Cork want to draw a line under the torment of last season's record bashing by Kerry.

It was a Munster final to forget and left a sour taste on the auspicious occasion of the first big football game at resplendent Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

If Cork could sink any lower then Tyrone made sure they were spitting dirt after another pasting in the fourth round of the qualifiers.

Now, 12 months on, Cork try again. The obvious question posed to coach Ronan McCarthy centered around the lessons learned.

His response was clear, decisive and while it could be considered simplistic, the reply was also logical and sensible.

“Get our hands on the ball,” McCarthy declared. “Kerry owned the ball for large portions of the game and we need to make sure we get our fair share of possession.

“Just like Kerry have quality forwards, we have quality up front as well who will cause plenty of damage, but they must get ball.

“We've got to obviously mind it when we get it, but it's all about playing intelligently, playing on the front foot and taking the game to the opposition.

“To do all those things, you've got to have the ball and we want players to fight for every blade of grass.

“That's all we ask and it's the same for any paying supporter. That's what they want to come and see.” Still, comparisons to last season aren't fair because of the many changes in personnel in the Cork set-up and so the baggage of 2018 doesn't weigh as heavily on the shoulders.

Anyway, there's enough pressure and hype on any old firm provincial final without having to drag up the nightmare of last summer.

While Cork romped to a 21-point rout of Limerick in their semi-final, Kerry were said to be struggling at times to shake off Clare's stubborn resistance in the other.

“We didn't have anyone in Ennis and relied on the video, which can be more helpful than being at games, because you can stop it and rewind to watch a particular aspect a number of times.

“At a game in person you get an impression, but the real work is done in the analysis room.” 

McCarthy knows from his own playing experience and managing Cork that Cusack Park is no easy venue, especially against a seasoned Clare team, which is the second highest ranked team in Munster.

“I felt in advance that it was a difficult game for Kerry. It's a difficult place to play and get a result as I know from my own experience of losing up there in 1997.

“Kerry were leading by 11 or 12 points at one stage and I think their performance has been played down a bit by the way the gap was narrowed in the second-half.

“To my mind, the game was over 10 minutes into the second half, which was significant because Clare are a good division 2 side, who are well coached and well managed with really excellent players.

“We saw what we expected to see from Kerry, their quality up front and you could see the defensive element improving which is something they said publicly they were going to address.

“They were solid at the back and created a lot up front which is what you'd expect from them.” 

There's always a psychology element going into big games as generations of Cork players can acknowledge, most pertinently when facing the crowd from the other side of the county bounds.

Even if Kerry were considered vulnerable at times, Cork, and no other team for that matter, could afford to treat them lightly for fear of being ambushed. Now, Kerry, at 1/7, are unbackable.

“I look to the Limerick game because it was the most recent. If we were to play 10 times you'd expect Cork to win seven or eight times based on league status at the moment.

“What we had to be careful of the last day were the one, two or three occasions where the outsiders put in a performance to beat the favourites.

“That's the nature of sport. You have to perform at a high level every time you go out in championship.

“From our point of view I am absolutely certain that there is no lack of quality which can match what Kerry have, but it's easy to say. We've got to go out and do it.” 

Officials are uncertain about the size of the crowd, especially after last season, but either way McCarthy doesn't consider playing at home to be that much of an advantage, if at all.

“It's irrelevant that we're playing the game here in Cork in front of our own supporters because you have to go out and play wherever the game is.

“Potentially, this season we could play Kerry in Croke Park. The game could end in a draw and we'd go to Killarney for the replay.

“We can't keep looking back on last year. We've got to deal with this game and ensure we put our best foot forward.” 

And as for winning back fickle Cork public support, which has always been an issue for football in the county, McCarthy just shrugged his shoulders.

“I've no interest in that. I'm only interested in the genuine Cork supporter, of which there are loads.

“They are the people who drive long distances from west Cork, put kids into cars and take them away for the day to watch Cork," McCarthy concluded.

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