FORMER Cork star John Considine expects a strong response from the team for Sunday’s Munster SHC clash with Clare in FBD Semple Stadium (2pm)..
After defeat to Limerick in their opener a fortnight ago, Cork face what is effectively a must-win game but, having reached last year’s All-Ireland final through the qualifiers, Considine thinks that that will generate a reaction.
“It’s one where it’s all about the result more than the performance,” he says.
“It’s hard to know how good Clare were against Tipp as the goals coloured things. Some of what Cork did early on against Limerick was good but things tailed off towards the end.
“When you’re outside, you can never judge what the attitude is but I’d be hopeful in the sense that the fact it’s effectively a knockout game will draw a response.
“This is it, this is the season – there’s no Munster or All-Ireland final if you lose on Sunday.”
The Limerick loss came on the back of the loss to Waterford in the Allianz HL final. Considine believes that Cork must improve in terms of defending from the front.
“Everything is coloured by two defeats in national finals,” he says, “but, over the last 18 months, I would say that Cork’s play with the ball has improved.
“It’s without the ball that there is room to get better – and I wouldn’t say that that’s just defending, it means from 15 back. It’s an attitude, a work-rate, an understanding. Limerick are masters at it and they turn everybody over, from the goalkeeper up.
“In terms of the gap from Limerick to the rest, that’s where it’s biggest but it’s something built up over five years rather than five weeks or five days.”
However, if they were to win, it would allow the opportunity for further improvement.
“Each defeat alters the judgment of the previous games,” Considine says.
“That’s why Sunday is huge – if Cork win, there’s a good chance of making the knockout stages and that will help to bring on a young team and give experience. On the other hand, if they lose and don’t progress, people will feel that we’re back at ground zero.
“People over-react to the most recent result, whether it’s good or bad, and having the games thick and fast magnifies that. Bill Shankly used to say that if he picked his team the night of a defeat, he’s probably change 10 fellas but, by the time next Saturday came around, he’d drop two at most.”