Big players stood up and were counted for Cork in Portlaoise

'Ian Maguire was magnificent and even he is not training a lot at the moment'
Big players stood up and were counted for Cork in Portlaoise

Cork's John O’Rourke takes on Gareth Dillon of Laois. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

CORK manager Ronan McCarthy paid tribute to his charges for handling a difficult must-win game and winning with eight points to spare.

“Apart from the victory, one of the most pleasing aspects was I thought a lot of our big players played really well and stepped up,” he said.

“Ian Maguire was magnificent and even he is not training a lot at the moment, nursing an ongoing issue with his knee, which is not major.

“Ruairí Deane was another who was brilliant and so too Ciarán Sheehan, showing real leadership.

“And Kevin O’Driscoll was another to put in a massive shift. We were hoping to take him off, but couldn’t and he battled away as did Mattie Taylor.

And I have to mention young Daniel O’Mahony, who was brilliant at the back. He’s played in two national league games and hasn’t been found wanting.

“Daniel plays the game the right attitude and from the front foot, attacking the ball.”

Cork led by those two first-half goals at the interval and could have been even more in front.

“We got out of the traps early and Sean’s goal gave us a platform. Yet, we should have been further ahead at half-time and I use that phrase helter-skelter again because it was a bit like that at times.

“Having said that we were well worth our half-time and I thought we were never in trouble in the second half, when we defended well in groups.

“We counter-attacked well. It was something we identified during the week. We did the same against Kildare at times, but lacked the foot pass forward to take advantage of situations on occasions.”

STEPPING UP

McCarthy was fulsome in his praise of those players summoned for action to fill the gaps created by so many injuries.

“We had players there with very little training done for various reasons, like Luke Connolly, who was pressed in with hardly anything done.

“Brian Hurley was ruled out with concussion and Cathail O’Mahony with a slight calf strain from the Kildare game.

“A player like Shane Forde came on and kicked a point, having had a desperate run of injuries for 12 months, while Damien Gore is only just back from injury and again with very little done. That’s why I think the win will definitely help the team.”

Cork had 2-7 on the board by the break. “It was a good return even though the nature of this is that you’re always looking for more and better.

“I thought we were maybe too eager at times in the first half and needed to slow it down, control it a bit more when they got men back.

“We ended coughing up the ball and Laois came back up the field. It was a good score to put up and from a good mix of players as well.

“Laois were always going to come at us. We were away from home in a must-win game with a lot of guys with little done, so we will take it.”

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