Mark Coleman says Cork players knew levels had to improve after two losses

“We knew that we didn’t play to our own standards and when you don’t meet your standards you have to ask why."
Mark Coleman says Cork players knew levels had to improve after two losses

Cork’s Shane Kingston fires a point from Noel McGrath of Tipperary. Picture: INPHO/Evan Treacy

Cork captain Mark Coleman feels that the team benefited from honest discussions in the wake of defeats to Limerick and Clare in their opening Munster SHC games.

Wins over Waterford and Tipperary meant that the Rebels became the first team to progress in the round-robin system after starting with two losses and the Blarney man put the turnaround down to an acceptance across the squad that there had to be an improvement.

“Absolutely,” he said, “there had to be.

“We knew that we didn’t play to our own standards and when you don’t meet your standards you have to ask why.

“There has to be those conversations and it’s not even that they’re hard, it’s just to take the learnings from it really, more than anything – what went wrong and how to fix it. It’s the same as any poor performance, that’s what you do.

“We just try to keep the outside out. It’s important in this type of format that you keep tight as a group. You know that there are going to be chances, that’s what makes it a good format, so we never panicked.

“We were poor, to be fair, in the first two games but we took the learnings from them and we came out and turned it around in the last two. Thankfully, it worked out the way it did and we’re out of the group.”

On Sunday in FBD Semple Stadium, Cork fell 1-3 to 0-0 behind in the opening five minutes but outscored Tipperary by 3-30 to 0-21 for the remainder of the game. Composure was key in mounting a response\

“We knew coming in that it was going to be a savage test,” Coleman said.

“After us winning in Waterford, that gave Tipp a lifeline so we knew that they were going to come out all guns blazing, which they did.

“They hit us hard in the first three or four minutes but we stuck to our own plan and just dug in, so we were delighted to come out with the result.

“No matter what, whether you go three points, six points down or six points up, you just try to fall back on your gameplan and that’s what we do.

“We never really panic and just try to fall back on the things that we’re good at and what work for us. That’s what we’ve been trying to do and, when you add that to the gameplan, it helps you out of those kinds of sticky situations.

“We knew coming out at the start of the second half that if we gave them the same start as they had in the first, we’d be under pressure again.

“It was just about getting out of the blocks again and making sure we didn’t give them a goal chance.

“We were up by eight half-time and it’s about making sure that you keep that at least keep the scoreboard ticking over. For every one you get, they have to get two, so that was the plan, to keep them at arm’s length.”

After four losses in five games – Wexford and Waterford in the league prior to the two championship reversals – Cork have now won two games where a defeat would have eliminated them. After making the All-Ireland final through the back door last year, the team have shown that the do-or-die nature is something they can feed off.

“Last year was probably the first year in a long time that we put a few performances back to back in knockout games,” Coleman said.
“It’s not something we spoke about, but I suppose when you’re in the heat of championship like that, having that experience of knockout games can’t be a bad thing anyway.”

The dynamic will be somewhat different in that they will be facing the winners of the Joe McDonagh Cup final between Antrim and Kerry but, while they will be huge favourites, Coleman is taking nothing for granted.

“It’ll be the same preparation no matter who you’re facing now,” he said.

“The Joe McDonagh, I think Laois turned Dublin over a few years ago so it’s definitely no game you can take for granted.”

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