'We can defend better...' Cork boss bemoans costly frees in Clare

Footballers conceded 1-9 from placed balls and only scored four, which had a big bearing on promotion
'We can defend better...' Cork boss bemoans costly frees in Clare

Cork manager Ronan McCarthy was pleased with his side's efforts in Ennis. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

DESPITE the obvious disappointment in not contesting the promotion play-off, Cork football manager Ronan McCarthy was able to look on the pluses that emerged from Ennis.

The Rebels won 0-22 to 1-17, which wasn't enough to eat into the scoring difference and secure a promotion play-off. Instead, they'll host Westmeath in a relegation clash to avoid the drop to Division 3.

“There are a lot of positives to take from coming to a difficult venue like this and playing a team that's on a high,” he said.

“Clare had beaten us three times in our last league meetings and we've won the game. I think that's significant.

“Our forwards looked very dangerous at times and we had a spell during the second quarter when I thought we played some very good stuff.” 

Cork reeled off six points without reply in as many minutes just after the first water break to show evidence of the team's undoubted potential up front.

“But, we would be disappointed with our defending at times.

Clare must have got six or seven scores from frees in the second half and some of them were soft at times. I thought we could have defended better.

“I think that's one area where we need to work on and I thought some of our decision making the more the game went could have been a bit more composed.” 

It was a far cry from more recent visits to Cusack Park when Cork were distant second-best on both occasions.

“There's no doubt about the spirit in the camp. Ruairí Deane came off injured in training on Thursday night, but still managed to play 75 minutes here.

“We lost Daniel O'Mahony, Ciarán Sheehan and Sean Powter through injury, as well as Brian Hurley's sending off.

My overall sense is that the spirit is good. The last time we were up here we had none, so we are definitely going in the right direction.”

Cork followed up their win over Laois with this one-point success and McCarthy believes it puts them in a good position for the Westmeath encounter.

“We are going into a relegation semi-final on the back of two wins and that will make a difference.

“We should be able to get a few more players back from injury and we should be a good bit stronger with two weeks training under our belts, too.

“We've been here before in 2019 and we must use that experience to make sure we win the game in two weeks' time.” 

That year Cork suffered relegation to Division 3, though they bounced back immediately last season when going through the campaign undefeated.

Now, they have an opportunity to copperfasten their Division 2 league status ahead of the Munster championship.

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