LEARNING and adapting.
They are some of the points St Finbarr's captain, Ian Maguire, has been stressing ahead of the county senior football final against Duhallow at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday at 3.30pm.
The city club find themselves back in familiar territory 12 months after suffering the anquish of a final replay defeat by Nemo Rangers, thus extending the Barr's wait for another county to 33 years.
It's an eternity for the Togher club, but the 24-year-old Maguire believes they're heading in the right direction and attempting to get the right processes in order to see them over the line and into the winners' enclosure.
“We learned from Nemo that you have to keep the scoreboard ticking over and that is one thing we couldn’t get right in the first-half.
“That doesn’t all fall on Steven Sherlock’s shoulders either. We need to contribute more in general play from other aspects of the pitch.
“When things are going wrong, you just need to control the ball, whether that’s for a five minute period or even longer.
“Once you have possession, you can stem the flow a bit and just create a scoring chance. That’s one thing we did very well against Carbery Rangers in the second half of the semi-final.
“What we didn’t do against Nemo was create a couple of frees to kill the opposition momentum. When things are going against Dublin, they might win a big kick-out or a big free.
“They take their time on the free, the free takes a minute and a half. They are killing the clock, then you can reset and calm down a small bit. That is something Ray (Keane) would be preaching,” Maguire said.
The imposing 6ft-5in Cork skipper also reflected on the 'Barr's use of possession this time last season.
It could be regarded as a lack of experience of playing on the big stage, not having made a final since 2010 and all part of the learning curve.
“Decision-making was poor in the final. We actually had a lot of chances, but we rushed shots. This year, we are a lot more disciplined.
“We are moving the ball better. We are being a bit more patient. Decision-making and possession are crucial.
“If you get turned-over and concede a score, that leads to two or three more. If you are penned in for two scores, all of a sudden, it feels as if you are trapped in your own half.
“Castlehaven are the last team to reach back-to-back finals. That is an achievement that none of us probably considered.
“We’ve been on the road for two long years. We are back to where we want to be,” Maguire added.
And yet that journey has differed sharply to last season's voyage, which flowed smoothly on calm waters. This trip has suffered a lot more turbulence.
Carrigaline scored three goals in a five-point defeat in round 1. Mallow also found the net at the next stage, but, significantly neither Douglas nor Ross managed to breach the defence. Further signs of learning and adapting.
“On the run into last year’s county final, it was almost as if we couldn’t put a foot wrong. We were playing very well. In the quarter-final and semi-final this year, we have sort of stumbled over them.
“But what I think we have shown this year, something we didn’t show in other years, when things went wrong in a game, we were able to adapt to get ourselves over the line.
“Douglas was a good example of that. Things got out of hand out from nowhere. Suddenly, we were in a game where we weren’t operating in fifth gear.
“What we learned in that game is we locked down defensively. Douglas didn’t get a goal. That was one of our weaknesses last year. When Nemo got on top, they rattled in two goals in-a-row.
“That is something we learned from last year. If they chip over a few points, so be it. But don’t concede goals.
“Goals are such a huge influence in football. They get the crowd into it and all of a sudden, the game is going away from you.
“I think we showed a bit of adaptability, compared to last year. We have shown that if things are going wrong within a game, we are able to fix them. We are able to adjust within a game.
“I thought we played well for the first 10 minutes of the Rosscarbery game. All of a sudden, we weren’t chipping in with scores.
“Colm Keane had a chance of a goal. Had we got that, all of a sudden, our tails would have been up. One or two shots went astray. Rosscarbery, to be fair to them, are a good team and they got on top.
“What we showed and this is what I highlighted earlier about management, we went in at half-time, reassessed and we were like a new team in the second-half.
“That shows a little bit of maturity that we didn’t have last year. There is great experience within the squad, with the likes of Lyons, Shields and Ross O’Dwyer.
“There are a lot of players within the squad that have shown maturity this year, compared to last year. Even Steven Sherlock in the second-half of the Rosscarbery game, he chipped in with two lovely points.
“It just shows where we are at at the moment. We are still learning, but I still think we are ahead of where we were last year but not playing to the levels we were last year.”
The three-game trilogy with the Haven will have brought Duhallow on a ton in the same way the west Cork club's couple of jousts with CIT improved them no end.
Maguire is suitably impressed.
“They are a division, but they seem a lot like a club. They have been together a while. What I see in Duhallow is they have a lot of players who have played Cork junior and senior.
"That experience matters. Their inter-county players stood up at different times."