Ian Maguire: It's all about the next man up for the Cork footballers

Rebels won't allow injuries to derail their season
Ian Maguire: It's all about the next man up for the Cork footballers

Cork's Ian Maguire and James Dolan of Westmeath. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

HE has been one of Cork's most consistent performers over the last number of years and considers it an honour to captain his county.

Ian Maguire will lead Cork out against Limerick at the Gaelic Grounds as they get their Munster championship underway in a game the Rebels will be expected to win.

But Ian says they are far from taking their opponents lightly and in his view with the game being up there it's going to be a massive challenge for the Rebels.

First he reflected on their league campaign and how it has set them up for the championship, but also on what he considers the unfair system where footballers have no back door whilst hurling sides do.

“For us we started out aiming for promotion and it didn't work out that way. If you were to ask me after the Kildare game and then the Clare game it would have been totally different.

“Ultimately I felt there was a lot of progress and we achieved a level of consistency in our forward play after the Kildare game we were happy with.

“If you break it down then even smaller we conceded three goals and that ultimately cost us. Looking at the Clare game we went up to a ground where we have been beaten a few times, went down to 14 and still got a win.

“That was a huge bonus for us in terms of we were able to hang in there and get a result. People say that when we come under pressure we fold but we dug out a win.

“In the relegation game against Westmeath we felt we didn't really get going. We chipped away at it for the first half and them when the likes of Mark Collins and Brian Hurley came on, adding that level of experience, gave us the momentum we needed to get over the line.

In other campaigns that could have been an U21-20 player coming on so from a Cork perspective to be building a squad to have the likes of them coming off the bench is huge.

“That's one of the positives from the league but another is the amount of scores we have been conceding and that is something we have and are working on ahead of the Limerick game.”

Cork have been hit by a number of injuries this year, the latest being Cathail O'Mahony joining the long list but Ian said that's something you just have to deal with.

“Injuries are part of sport and to a certain extent you are focusing on yourself, I know as captain my perspective is slightly different. But it's about the next man up, and we are training with a panel of 30 plus and you know there are a lot of quality players there.

“So when someone gets injured it's an opportunity for someone else to step up and stake their claim for the jersey.

“We have lost some experienced players in the likes of Paul Kerrigan and now Ciaran Sheehan, but then you look at how the likes of Brian Hartnett have stepped up.

“He got sent off and was suspended, but came on in the Westmeath one at a difficult time in the game and kicked a point. You can throw a lot of things under the umbrella of opportunity, but experience is built from opportunity and that has happened in the league for us all.”

DO OR DIE

If they lose to Limerick then Cork's season is over as there is no back door in the football, something that Ian feels is not right considering the hurlers have one.

“When there is a back door in hurling then you are asking yourself why isn't there one in football? You look at the likes of Clare and Down whose season is over now, having trained for weeks.

“It's very tough and unfair when you see what's happening in terms of the hurling.”

Looking at their opponents Ian said: “Make no bones about it we won't be taking Limerick lightly. They are a very serious outfit and have put in a lot of work in the last few years. A lot of them would have played with MTU (formerly CIT) and UCC so we would know a lot of them.

“When we played them in the McGrath Cup in 2020 they pretty much blew us off the pitch so we know what to expect."

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