Cork selector Ryan admits a lack of consistency is costing the footballers

Cork selector Ryan admits a lack of consistency is costing the footballers

Cork manager Peadar Healy, centre, with selectors Eamonn Ryan, left, and Morgan O’Sullivan. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

CORK selector Eamonn Ryan craves the levels of consistency created by the ladies football team.

Not only in terms of performance, but the ability to dig out even the slimmest of victories, a trait which became their hallmark.

“You'd be aspiring to repeat what the girls do, win games regularly if only by a point. There's a difference though in that the men's situation is very public. It's there the whole time whereas the same media focus wasn't there for the ladies team.

“Anywhere you go you're always going to get a comment about the men, but only from time to time with the ladies,” Ryan said at the championship launch at Muckross House.

However, he's not looking beyond the opening round in Munster against Waterford in Dungarvan on Saturday evening, throw-in, 7pm.

Cork enter the championship arena after a below par division two league campaign and their star firmly on the wane.

“Looking at it objectively, it's Kerry and Tipp in that order with Cork and Clare fighting it for third place. I don't know how we can turn it around. It's not as simple as turning on a switch though it could take the smallest thing to do it like somebody grabbing a game by the scruff of the neck and others being inspired by it.

“One big win could do it. I think it's just an accumulation of results over three or four years not going their way. I do genuinely believe it is going to happen. Unfortunately, I can't say when."

Now, in his second season as a selector, the former ladies team coach can only identify three games in which Cork showed glimpses of their potential, Mayo in the league and Donegal in the qualifiers last season and the league game with Meath this year.

“They played to their potential for quite a period in all three games, but didn't finish them out. We are still chasing the full 70-minute display. What I want is for every Cork player coming off the field to say they played as well as they could.

“That's what any team is striving to do and the accumulative affect would be a team performance. Public expectation is that we should win this in canter, but I remember getting beaten by Limerick in 1965.

“I can also remember Kerry getting beaten by Waterford in 1957 which shows you can't take anything for granted.”

The three league draws with Galway, Meath and Down reflect the maybe story of Cork football, close, but still a distance to travel before considered respectable again.

Paddy O'Rourke of Meath is tackled by Ian Maguire. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Paddy O'Rourke of Meath is tackled by Ian Maguire. Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

“We were in a winning position in all three, especially the Meath game, when I thought we played particularly well. It was inexplicable we only drew because we were the better team on the day. I would say we were 55% to 45% in charge in that game.

“It's mostly frustrating for the lads themselves, not being able to close out games. It's a very public stage now. Players just can't avoid hearing the criticism and that does have an effect on them, though you certainly won't see it in training.” 

Ryan reckons those draws could have transformed Cork's season had they managed to hang on for wins.

It would have meant qualifying for the league final, winning promotion and an overall much needed injection of confidence.

“Overall, there are no two ways about it but the league was extremely disappointing because we didn't play well. I think the teams we played were just better than us on the day. The players are training hard and we could have no complaints on that score.

“It just didn't happen for us in the league. Maybe it's a matter of confidence, I don't know,” he declared.

Cork's situation is such that they can't look beyond the Waterford game even though the prospect of avenging last season's shock semi-final defeat by Tipp must be uppermost in their minds.

“You can't look any further."

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