Counihan: Players must deliver at inter-county level

There was a time when a good performance in a club game could see a player play himself onto a county team.

Those days are long gone in the view of Cork football boss Conor Counihan, however, as the gap between grassroots and top flight continues to grow.

Counihan’s side face Clare in a Munster SFC semi-final in Ennis on Sunday (3.30pm), and in his view, any players looking to make a case for themselves must do so in-house.

“Training is where guys have got to do the business and show a bit of form,” he said.

“It’s good to see a fella playing well with his club, but club and inter-county championship are poles apart. Most people realise that, if you don’t you’re a bit naïve.

“You might get 2-6 in a club game but it depends on who you’re on, you could get a very mediocre player, but that won’t happen at intercounty level. With no disrespect to anybody, the club championship is gone back, there are probably too many clubs playing at the top level, it really needs to be looked at. ”

Cork come into the game on the back of a 3-17 to 0-8 win over Limerick in the quarter-final at the end of May. Counihan feels that, as the Shannonsiders’ performance was below that of recent years, he can’t read too much into the game.

“It all depends on how much you value the opposition, and contrary to previous years, the opposition that Limerick provided the last day wasn’t on a par with what they would have done previously,” he said.

Last year, Cork had a similar win, 3-16 to 0-13, in the provincial final against Clare. Having had 11 months to stew over that game means Clare are gunning for revenge, especially as they will have home advantage.

“Absolutely,” Counihan agreed. “Once the draw was made, the fact the game is in Ennis, they were probably saying they were going to give this one hell of a cut. Any team that has that attitude will put you under pressure if you don’t get to grips with them early.”

Lop-sided scorelines, in Munster and other provinces, have led to suggestions of splitting the championship in two. It’s something that Counihan has found surprising.

“I don’t know, in the games to date in Munster there has been that, which is a bit surprising,” he said.

“If you look at our own situation with Limerick this year, it’s poles apart from what it was other years.

“Those games, there were stages of those where it was quite competitive for half the game nearly. The fact that teams collapsed to some extent, you couldn’t visualise that happening too often.”

But he’s not leading the calls for an immediate change in the system. “Would you have said that [there should be two tiers] in 2012 and 2011 and 2010? I don’t think you would, so let’s not press the panic button yet.”

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