Cork were one of a number of teams to feel the backlash from last season

The likes of Kildare, Kerry and Limerick all believed they had a cause to make big statements on the opening weekend of the football league
Cork were one of a number of teams to feel the backlash from last season

Referee Maurice Deegan shakes hands with Kildare manager Jack O'Connor after the Allianz Football League Division 2 South Round 1 match between Cork and Kildare at Semple Stadium in Thurles, Tipperary. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

IT was clear some counties had bottled the hurt of last year, allowed it ferment before uncorking it in a torrent of controlled fury at the weekend.

Kerry were the obvious ones, but so too Kildare and Limerick to varying degrees with all getting their messages across.

It must have been a long and painful winter in the Kingdom with daily reminders to all about what unfolded on that bleak November afternoon in Pairc Ui Chaoimh.

For the players the time to finally exorcise the demons of Mark Keane’s sucker-punch couldn’t come quickly enough and poor Galway were the victims in a rout.

Management, too, got it regularly in the ear about their cautious approach to that ill-fated Munster semi-final and Peter Keane and co were also itching to set the record straight.

Instead of wrapping them up in straight jackets, Kerry allowed their obviously talented forwards, in particular, to express themselves without any hindrance and how they revelled in the freedom of Austin Stack Park.

It was a reminder, if, indeed, any was needed, that Kerry’s forwards are the best in the country, even better than those in Dublin, champions for the last six years.

David Clifford’s 3-6, all bar 0-2 from play, naturally dominated the conversation, his tally alone bettering what other teams registered collectively and he wasn’t even on the pitch for the full duration.

Of course, it all has to be placed in context because Galway were pitiful though you also suspect Kerry were going to perform surgery on whatever opponent showed up.

The Connacht side were just unlucky to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, first up to face an angry Kerry determined to cause damage.

Cork also came up a Kildare side with much to prove after leaking five goals in the second-half of their Leinster semi-final against Meath, having been six points ahead at the interval.

Manager Jack O’Connor, the former Kerry All-Ireland winning boss, admitted it was a factor in how they’re approaching life in division 2 south this year.

“Obviously, it’s been influenced a little by that and we’re trying to get better defensively though we didn’t have a huge amount of time last year,” he said after the 1-12 to 0-14 victory in Thurles.

“We got a bit more time this year and I don’t think we conceded any goal chance. Last year was definitely a factor.”

Cork’s youngsters learned a bit more about the difficulties of dwelling on the ball and taking it into contact.

“We fought like tigers for every ball and we tackled in twos and threes and showed great desire,” added O’Connor.

“It took us 15 minutes to get to grips with Cork before controlling the game and playing it on our terms.”

Cork visit O’Moore Park in Portlaoise on Saturday evening at 7pm to play a Laois side who also lost their opening game, going down by 1-16 to 0-12 to Clare in Ennis.

It’s a huge game. The winners will still be in the promotion frame, but the losers will more than likely be involved in the relegation play-off.

Limerick manager Billy Lee tried to play down his side’s 1-13 to 0-14 victory over Tipperary at the Gaelic Grounds in division 3.

But, the opportunity to make amends for losing to the Munster champions after extra-time last season was too enticing to overlook.

The memory of Conor Sweeney’s extraordinary equalising point from close to the Mackey Stand in the closing act of normal time must still be fresh in the minds of the Limerick contingent.

It was the Shannonsiders who stood on the brink of appearing in a rare provincial final until Sweeney’s Houdini act and the rest is history as they say.

A 37th minute goal from Danny Neville was the chief score, part of Limerick’s 1-4 without reply burst after the resumption.

Tipp were in experimental mode, partly due to a large injury count, including Robbie Kiely, Bill Maher, Michael Quinlivan and Philip Ryan.

Shane Ryan’s first game in charge of Waterford ended with a 3-16 to 0-10 defeat by Carlow with the championship looming.

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