DESPITE finishing their programme on a losing note to Roscommon on Sunday, Cork coach, Ronan McCarthy, was upbeat.
It was their only loss on the road, having won away to Down and Meath.
“To me, it has been our best performance of the league so far. On another day, we could have come out on the other side of it.
“What I am looking at is the manner in which they played, the way they went at the game throughout. The lads were positive, worked hard for each other, were creative up front and defensively sound as the game went on,” he said.
McCarthy paid tribute to Kevin Crowley, Kevin Flahive and Jamie O’Sullivan in defence. “I thought John O’Rourke ran the game from start to finish. He was brilliant.
“We would come away from the game very positive and very optimistic. I think we are in a good place,” McCarthy added.
Cork sensed possibilities, when edging in front for the first time mid-way through the second-half only for the Rossies to rally.
“We had a free which could have pushed us two ahead, but we could never got away. I thought we showed real courage throughout the game and really went at it.
“We played at a high tempo and caused them trouble up front throughout the game. Defensively, we were probably a bit open for the first 20 minutes.
“After that, we settled. It was a great tussle and we just came out on the wrong side of it.”
Cork went into the game believing they were safe from relegation, though McCarthy was adamant it didn’t influence their thinking.
“We were quite clear to the players that even though we were likely to be safe, we were looking for a performance against a top eight side away from home.”
Cork finished five points behind Roscommon and Cavan, paying the price for losing three of their four home games.
“When you lose your first game, you are under pressure. We recovered from that. The Cavan game was a setback, a real low point in the league.
“From the point of view of the team, we started 29 players after today. I think we used 35 players. In most of the games, we have been competitive.
“The second-half against Louth and Cavan was poor. Other than that, we had a go. Today we had a real go. At the end of the day, there is no guarantee about the result.
“What you want is the players to give it everything they have. There is no question today that they gave every ounce they had to try and win the game and just came up short.”