A LOT done but more to do was the message from Cork hurling manager Kieran Kingston as the Rebels overcame Dublin on Saturday to reach the All-Ireland SHC semi-finals.
An eight-point margin of victory in Thurles – 2-26 to 0-24 – masked to some extent a second half where Cork couldn’t shake free of their opponents but in the end they did enough. While pleased to see progress, Kingston knows that more will be needed next week against Kilkenny in Croke Park.
“We’re happy to be in an All-Ireland semi-final,” he said, “we haven’t been there in a while so it’s great to be back there.
“For us, the pleasing thing for us was to put a performance on the back of a performance. Last week was a huge game for us, we were lucky to get out of there, and we knew that tonight was going to be the same.
“We knew that if we didn’t play as well as, or better than, we did last week then we wouldn’t get out of there, so that’s pleasing.
“The disappointing thing is I thought we were quite poor and sloppy in the third quarter. We lost it by a point and only drew the second half so we have a huge amount of work and that wouldn’t be good enough to beat Kilkenny tomorrow week.”
Having been nine points in front one more than one occasion in the second half, Cork found their lead cut to just four points with five minutes of normal time left before settling and pushing on to finally secure victory.
Kingston accepted that such peaks and troughs are part of the learning experience for the team.
“When you’re evolving as a team, they’ll make mistakes,” he said.
“When the scoreboard is with you, they might take on things that aren’t on, we were taking potshots from out the field that really weren’t on and all you’re doing is giving possession back to the opposition.
“That’s something we didn’t do in the first half and didn’t do coming down the stretch, but we did it in that quarter, which is just a lack of experience.”
Coming on the back of the win over Clare in Limerick the previous week, the victory leaves Cork in a good position going into the semi-final against Brian Cody’s Kilkenny, who won the Leinster championship.
However, with the quick turn-around time comes the need to ensured that bodies are right to go again this coming weekend.
“That’ll be a challenge, really next week is about recovery, try to get the legs going again and prepare for Kilkenny but that’s as much as we can do.”
The Cork-Kilkenny semi-final will take place in Croke Park at 3.30pm on Sunday, with Cork seeking a first championship win at headquarters since the 2013 semi-final triumph over Dublin. As a result, the Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U20HC final against Galway is likely to take place on Saturday, with Thurles the expected venue. Details are likely to be confirmed by the GAA today.
In Saturday’s other senior quarter-final, played at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Waterford continued their resurgence with a 4-28 to 2-27 win over Tipperary. The Déise will face Limerick in the first semi-final, next Saturday in Croke Park at 5pm.