CORK selector Diarmuid 'The Rock' O’Sullivan said they were a lot of good things to take from the Allianz league final loss to Waterford, despite the result.
He was speaking at the launch of the Sports Direct's new Cork training top, which will be available in the shop in the coming weeks.
“There were a lot of good things when we sit back in the cold light of day and do your video analysis,” said Diarmuid, “We did a lot of good things. Clearly, we didn’t do enough good things right. We have to take our learnings into the championship campaign from the league and the league final.
“Yes we were in an All-Ireland final last year with part of this group and a new part of this group has been involved in another national final, we take our learnings from the league and put a plan of action into place for the championship over the coming days.
“The key take away was our shot efficiency, we had about 17 wides and let’s be realistic that’s tying one hand behind your back. Can we take shots from better positions, can our shooting get better? 100% it can.
“This group are around long enough to know we can improve and what I will say is you will see a big improvement in that area going forward.”
Looking at the Cork defensive display on the night he said: “You can look at it two ways - was our defending up to scratch or were Waterford very clinical?
“They took their opportunities so was it Waterford’s ability to create and take goals, you can look at it either way. You have to take your hat off to them Waterford are in a very good place. Liam Cahill has them eating out of the palm of his hand, to not appeal the Austin Gleeson red card, Jamie Barron to come back into the squad, so was it Cork or Waterford, it was a mixture of both.”
Cork conceded four goals to Waterford but Diarmuid said Cork’s average over the league of conceding goals has been good and it was just a blip.
“What defines our campaign is it winning it? Some would say yes, but we have our own metrics to judge it by, bringing in new players into the squad, monitoring players in their training are they meeting specific targets.
“We lost five out of 28 quarters in the league and we have met a lot of the metrics we laid out throughout the league campaign. But it’s put to bed the analysis is done and we have to move on.
“People came to me with similar questions and I said to them who won the national league last year? Not one of them could tell me, that’s the bottom line of it. What light that sheds the league in I’m not so sure but that’s the bottom line of it.
“We are looking at this over the course of the seven games, if we had lost by a single point would there be so many questions? We are very comfortable with our squad and what we got from the league.
“It gave us competitive games from February right to April and it was better than trying to get challenge matches or training camps. What’s better than training camps but competitive games. We have a big squad now trying to get into the matchday 26 and then the starting 15 so we are very comfortable with where we are at.
“We are in a good place, from outside people might say we are not, but they are not taking the big picture into consideration. Myself and Kieran (Kingston) have been in this gig for a while and Pat (Mulcahy) and Noel (Furlong) have joined us and I think we as a collective have gelled really well.
“So as a management team we are in a really good place with the squad and I think the squad are in a really good place with us and are very clear of the idea of the way we want to play and move forward.”
Looking at the opportunities they missed and the mistakes they made in the final, Diarmuid said they are things that can be worked on and he knows they will improve in both areas for the Limerick game.
“100% we can and that’s down to a collective and that’s not down to any individual. It comes down to a collective as defending is a collective and that starts from the forward line back and it’s an area we have been really good at. The work rate of our forward line and then midfield has been really good. Just a little tweak here and there and hit the reset button and start again.
“I think out of our panel of 36 there are about 24 guys who are under the age of 24-25 so we have a very young squad. The likes of Ciarán Joyce have come in, the two Roches (Eoin and Brian) along with Daire O’Leary. Alan Connolly has made the breakthrough and Sean Twomey has done well in the league, we have an abundance of young talent and it is up to us to manage that talent as well. They have come with success but that won’t guarantee you success at the next level.”
Looking ahead to the Limerick game and what should be a full house at Páirc Ui Chaoimh Diarmuid said it should be a cracking atmosphere on the day.
"People really want to get back to big crowds and a great atmosphere after the last few years. To have the All-Ireland champions coming to Cork is a massive challenge and we have to respect what they have done.
“They keep tweaking their game, making adjustments and they are constantly evolving and we have to make sure we are in prime condition to face this massive challenge.”