Cork boss John Cleary: We must tighten up in the middle for Croke Park clash

“We’re up against the big boys the next day no matter who we get and it’s going to be really tough."
Cork boss John Cleary: We must tighten up in the middle for Croke Park clash

Cork manager John Cleary on the line against Limerick. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton

WILL it be Galway or Derry again in the All-Ireland quarter-finals?

Or will Cork have to take on in-form Dublin after Monday morning’s draw on RTÉ Radio?

Interim manager John Cleary awaits the outcome after Sunday's exciting 2-18 to 1-16 win over Limerick at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Either way it’s going to be a massive jump in standards for the Rebels as Cleary admitted afterwards.

“We’re under no illusions because we’re in the frying pan now,” he said. “We’re up against the big boys the next day no matter who we get and it’s going to be really tough.

“But, we’re there which is the main thing and we’ll test ourselves.

Look at Clare against Roscommon on Saturday? Nobody gave them a chance and they put everything on the line, which is something I hope we’ll do in two weeks’ time.”

Cork finished with 14 players after the dismissal on a second yellow card of substitute Paul Walsh in the 63rd minute.

Captain Brian Hurley, however, tucked away an expertly taken penalty a minute later to open up a five-point gap, which they maintained to the final whistle.

Brian Hurley buries his penalty. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Brian Hurley buries his penalty. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

“I think the group needed to win back-to-back games after a torrid league campaign,” Cleary added. “We’re probably stuttering away, for the want of a better word.

“There was no intensity in our play in the first half when we stood off Limerick and could have been in a bit of bother after playing with the wind.

We had some heroic displays in defence from the likes of Kevin O’Donovan and Sean Powter, but we’re still very open down the middle and it’s something to work on.”

Limerick also had card issues after defender Gordon Brown was dispatched to the sin-bin for a body-check on a Cork player after 50 minutes.

Cork capitalised with an important 1-3, the goal coming from Cathail O’Mahony just a couple of minutes before Limerick were restored to 15 men.

“It can mean a lot with the intensity of the games today and the black card was definitely a big turning point. It took some of the pressure off us at the back, particularly from kick-outs and we were able to get scores in that particular time.

“I didn’t see what happened with Paul’s red card, but we were able to manage the rest of the game,” Cleary commented.

There was a disappointing end to the season, however, for Cork minors, who lost their All-Ireland quarter-final to Derry by 0-12 to 0-6.

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