CORK’s promotion prospects took a hit, but not a fatal blow, in losing to Kildare at Semple Stadium on Saturday afternoon according to manager Ronan McCarthy.
The Lilywhites were full value for their 2-12 to 0-14 victory, leading by nine points in the last 15 minutes.
“I think if we win our two remaining games you come out of the group, but they’re both tough games and away from home,” he said.
“That’s the nature of Division 2 because it’s probably the most competitive division that’s there and we go again, facing into the next challenge.”
That’s away to Laois at O’Moore Park next Saturday evening at 7pm before which Cork will assess the injury situation in the camp.
“Brian Hurley will follow the return to play protocol, but we’d be hopeful that he will be okay, though we won’t take any chances with him if he’s not.
“Sean Powter took a little knock on his shoulder similar to what happened against Kerry last year and he will have a scan, but we’re hoping it’s nothing too serious.
“Mark Collins isn’t too far away. Damien Gore is a bit further behind, but the league is so compressed now that an injury, like Kildare’s Daniel Flynn (hamstring), could rule you out for the rest of the competition.
“Any sort of niggle now sets you back for a couple of weeks.
“You’re out of training for a couple of weeks and then you need time to get back into it, so it’s a very tight time frame for anyone getting injured now,” McCarthy commented.
Cork were left rueing what might have been after a promising opening only to be cut nine points adrift on the hour before eventually losing by four.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the defeat. In a seven-round national league, the first game is always important and in a three-round, it’s even more important.
“Everyone wanted to get off to a good start. I thought we played great stuff for 20-25 minutes but didn’t translate it on the scoreboard which is probably the most disappointing part of it.
“Kildare’s two quick-fire goals put us under pressure and while we tried to get back we left ourselves with a lot to do. The big regret is the first half.
Cork kicked half-a-dozen first-half wides and spurned other opportunities, also.
“Yet, I thought we looked a good side in that opening period and mixed our play well between hitting them on the counter-attack and being patient, too.
“I can recall Kevin O’Driscoll getting a great point after we must have kept the ball for two minutes, but then we started snatching at chances.
“I felt instead of being behind at half-time we should have been three or four points ahead.
“The nature of the job is that you’re always trying to look at positives and yet you can’t shy away from the negatives either.
“Kildare had a period where they dominated the game in the second half in particular and one of their goals came from a mistake of our own, a cross-field pass.”