Kieran Kingston: My belief in this Cork hurling squad has only grown

“I thought the lads during that period never panicked, stuck to the gameplan, believed in what we were doing."
Kieran Kingston: My belief in this Cork hurling squad has only grown

Cork manager Kieran Kingston urges on Man of the Match Conor Lehane at Semple Stadium. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

CORK manager Kieran Kingston felt that his side were rewarded for keeping their composure as the Rebels progressed to the knockout stages of the All-Ireland SHC.

A 3-30 to 1-24 victory at FBD Semple Stadium was Cork’s biggest over Tipperary in the championship since 1942 and means that they are the first team in the round-robin era to qualify after losing their opening two matches.

They started slowly here too as Tipp scored an unanswered 1-3 and were 1-4 to 0-3 ahead when Noel McGrath hit the post with a penalty. Cork replied immediately with an Alan Connolly goal and Darragh Fitzgibbon also netted as they led by 2-14 to 1-9 at half-time.

Sub Tim O’Mahony had a third goal in the second half and Conor Lehane was outstanding with eight points, seven from play, as Cork cruised to a meeting with Antrim or Kerry.

“We went six points down, that was very disappointing,” Kingston said, “our start was very poor.

“We could have been further down but I thought the character the lads showed from there on in to go six down and I think 15 up in the second half. Massive turnaround, final score winning by 12 points. So that's a huge turnaround.

I thought the lads during that period never panicked, stuck to the gameplan, believed in what we were doing, albeit you could have panicked, start lumping it, doing different things, but they didn't.

"They stayed with the process, stayed with the plan, believed in what we were doing, believed in themselves and turned it around coming into half-time, which I was really proud of them for that.”

FIERCE BELIEF

The response underlined Kingston’s faith in the squad.

“Absolutely,” he said, “I wouldn't have taken this job if I didn't believe in this group of players.

“I've massive belief in this group of players, massive belief, and if we had lost the last two games, I would still have fierce belief in this group of players.

“I wouldn't have come back into them a couple of years ago when they asked me to if I didn't have belief in them and my belief in them has only grown.

“Cork people love their hurling and I suppose when you get to an All-Ireland final and league final, expectation goes up. Then you don’t deliver and criticism goes up accordingly but that’s the game we’re in and we have to deal with that as a management team and as players and we can deal with that.

Cork supporters are awesome but of course, there was negativity out there – we would think some of it unjustified, but then again, that’s our view. You know what they say about opinions!

“You have to look as well at who’s giving the opinion.”

Coming on the back of the win against Waterford in Walsh Park, it was a sign that Cork have bounced back since the league final defeat to the Déise followed by championship reversals against Limerick and Clare, but Kingston wasn’t getting carried away.

“Two games doesn't make us a consistent team either and certainly one didn't last Sunday,” he said.

“We know how important last Sunday was because obviously backs to the wall, lose and you're out and today we approached it in exactly the same way. It was a knockout game as far as we were concerned.

“It's Cork and Tipperary, we all grew up on tales of Cork playing Tipp in Munster hurling, especially up in Thurles. You could see that today, if today happened to be a dead rubber game, the approach of both teams would have been the same because it's still Cork and Tipp.”

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