'There was no fallout from relegation, our bond is a major positive'

'There was no fallout from relegation, our bond is a major positive'
Ian Maguire wins the ball from Donegal's Hugh McFadden. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

IT'S the collective that will help Cork emerge from their current predicament, according to midfielder and captain, Ian Maguire.

Those on the outside provide little comfort for a side relegated from Division 2 in the league ahead of the championship start next month.

Either Tipperary or Limerick travel to Páirc Uí Rinn for a Munster semi-final on Saturday, June 1 with Tipp, who dropped along with Cork to Division 3 next year, the strong fancies to set-up a repeat from 2018.

The 25-year-old Maguire, a Grant Thornton accountant, can still pick through the debris and come up with some encouragement for a summer with low expectations.

“There was no fall out from the league, first and foremost. It was obviously disappointing to end up in Division 3 and there is a lot of negativity around the group at the moment, but that comes with the territory.

“One thing that is a major positive, however, is the bond within the group. There is no negative presence in training.

“I think we've developed a trust with one another despite and through the tough defeats. We've stuck together.

“That really shone through in the closing three league games and to be honest we were like a totally different team.

“There are a couple of reasons for that. One was that we had hit rock bottom after the Meath game and we could only go up from there.

“There was also a tweak in style from the way we were playing. I think it was the madness of the last 10 minutes against Donegal which ultimately sent us down.

“But, apart from that, I thought we played good stuff in those three games and showed what we can do if we're all pulling in the same direction and firing off all cylinders.

“I think that's the thing we need to focus on and I hope it's something people will focus on coming into the summer and not focus on the negatives,” Maguire commented.

Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Cork's self-belief took a battering during a campaign which started poorly and never rose to any appreciable heights early on, probably a hangover from the two heavy beatings by Kerry and Tyrone in the last two games of 2018.

Yet, the Cork players wouldn't be human if confidence seeped from their system like a sieve, though the manner in which they finished their league programme hinted at a revival.

“It probably has been affected, but it's one of those intangible things in that you can't measure it.

“Yet, we went up to Tipp and won. And then we went up to Armagh and put in a serious performance, reflected in Brian Hurley's two first-half goals.

“To my mind, confidence comes from the training ground, doing the right things, playing to your strengths and I think it is rising.

“There is a strong resilience in the group, though people may laugh at that, and we need to feed off that during the summer.

“There are some strong characters and I reckon we are going in the right direction. I think we'll prove that in the championship.” 

The basis for Maguire's optimism is the scoring material up top, reflected in a big bonus that is the return to fitness of Sean Powter and Brian Hurley and young talented personified by the likes of Michael Hurley and Stephen Sherlock.

Newcomers Eoghan McSweeney and Damien Gore offer scoring potential, as well. Add in renowned finishers such as Luke Connolly, Mark Collins, Paul Kerrigan and John O'Rourke, and you can see where the skipper is coming from.

“I think we just under-performed in lots of ways and probably need a bit more composure within games themselves.

"We also need to be playing in big games. We were in a very similar situation last year, finishing on six points in the league and five this year.

“I think we learned big lessons from the Kerry and Tyrone games last year. It needs everyone to raise it a level or two because no one individual can do it,” Maguire concluded.

Balancing the needs at either end of the pitch is key.

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