I'M sure the week of the All-Ireland semi-finals there are a lot of regrets from the other counties that did not make it.
A lot of managers and players looking back and saying to themselves, what if...', especially Cork and Wexford.
Wexford were in a real winning position, six points up with 10 minutes to go against a Clare team that were no where near their best. Wexford seemed to lack belief and Clare took full advantage.
Some of their players showed real leadership, especially guys like Paul Flanagan and David McInerney, and particularly Shane O'Donnell and an injured Tony Kelly.
Manager Brian Lohan showed a streak of ruthlessness in making very good substitutions very early as well as late on.
He got rewarded for that when they ground out a result, which was very important for this team after their narrow Munster final defeat after extra time. A real reflection of what Lohan has done with this team. Everyone playing for the team, even when things were going wrong, they found a way to deliver.
Brian was not pleased with that performance and he knows more than anyone they could have been out of the championship; a lot to work on for him, and a fair stick to beat them with, and no better man to do that.
But, in my opinion, the team with the biggest regret of all will be Cork. They had several chances to win their game against an average enough Galway team, suffering a big hangover from their Leinster final defeat to Kilkenny. And still Cork did not take the opportunity to put them away.
A lot of questions have been asked as to why they did not do so, and I'm wondering if Cork are still suffering a hangover themselves, especially after the All-Ireland humiliation last year against Limerick? It takes a while, especially for players to get over that. Not performing on the biggest day of all can leave many scars.
When you are staring at defeat all those scars can come back to haunt you. A lot of the Cork players are not playing with any real confidence, and it definitely happened against Galway. They lacked aggression and intensity in most of their games.
Could you see any of the Cork defenders doing the same at the other end of the ground? I don't think so.
At least I have not seen that from a Cork player for a number of years now. You have to have that type of mentality for your team to make progress in every championship game. That is not dirty play, that is doing what you have to do if the occasion demands. It's up to the referee to decide if its a free or a yellow card, that is his job.
In my opinion, Cork were lucky that they lost to Galway. I believe, had they won, they were only covering over the cracks and would be facing a different animal in the All-Ireland semi-final. Limerick would be rubbing their hands if Cork had gone through, and I believe they would have gotten a bad beating again.
I do not think that would do this Cork team any good now. Maybe they don't think like that, but in my opinion, Limerick are a good bit ahead of Cork at this point in time. They still have a lot of young players in their team and another big defeat by Limerick would do more harm than good.
The big questions for Cork for next year include will some of the older players stay with it or get out? Guys like Seamus Harnedy, Conor Lehane and Patrick Horgan. These three have given tremendous service to Cork over the years.
The manager should decide whether he needs these players or not. In my opinion, players should never decide if they want to stay or not, that should always be up to the manager if he wants them in his panel.
That is up to the powers that be to pick a manager, and when they pick him, they should always stand by him, because he should always be the man in charge.
That is very important for any group of players to know. I'm sure a county the size of Cork would always make decisions that way. Everyone knows where they stand then.
I'm sure that is what is going to happen in Cork in the next number of weeks.