‘Outsiders can form opinions — we know what’s going on’

It isn’t exactly Diarmuid O’Sullivan’s version of Father Ted’s Golden Cleric speech, but win a Munster title and what you’re given is a platform.

Cork selector Diarmuid O'Sullivan keeps a close eye on his troops as they line up for the team photo. Picture: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Cork, he had read, heard, and duly discarded, were at a low ebb.

“Who documented the lows, the people outside of Cork? People not working in the systems? It’s very easy for them to look in from the outside and say: ‘Cork hurling isn’t in a good position.’

“I’d urge every fella to go around every Saturday for the 40 weekends in the year the development squads are working. People on the outside can form those opinions — we know what’s going on.”

The only assessment of Cork the Cloyne man would ever value is what they think of themselves. Before the start of the Munster championship, they were the least favoured among the five; obviously lower when it came to ranking the competition for the Liam MacCarthy Cup.

“To be honest, we were number eight ranked in the country three weeks or a month ago so it doesn’t really matter at this stage what people think we are or we aren’t. We’ll keep our own house in order, keep the outside out. Wherever that will bring us, it will bring us.”

O’Sullivan has been a pundit himself in the past but now at the coalface and in victory he can throw a jab at those who had dismissed Cork.

“There’s people paid in high positions to make them opinions — it just worked out for us. We’re over the moon. We put in another performance. We’ve three of three in this competition; we’ve another competition in five weeks’ time.”

To claim an All-Ireland title?

“That’s a long way away. We have to reflect and see how we can get better because we left a lot of opportunities behind.

“It’s about a performance. If you put in a performance you get the result. Five weeks to an All-Ireland semi-final, the lads will go back to their clubs for the next two weeks where they will prosper and play away. And that’s what we want them to do.”

Having been heavily involved in development groups prior to becoming part of Kieran Kingston’s set-up, O’Sullivan was especially thrilled by the minors’ comprehensive provincial final win over Clare in Sunday’s curtain-raiser.

“To come up here as a Corkman and to come home with minor and senior Munster championship medals — they are a wonderful group.

“They are undefeated since 14 years of age that group. They’ve been together all that time and worked really well.

“In fairness to Denis (Ring), they pulled it out of the fire (in semi-final draw with Tipperary). There was 8,000 people to watch them in the replay. They deserved that.”

Corner-back Colm Spillane had more reason than most to savour Sunday’s victory after what he considered a lost year to a cruciate injury last season. That his marker Conor McGrath grabbed a goal that triggered a Clare fightback didn’t overly upset him.

“We went seven points up and they got back into it a bit but I don’t think we let them (too much). Obviously, Clare have very good players and they got a good goal. My man got the goal. There’s a lot of scores in hurling so you can’t let one or anything kind of distract you.”

Tony Kelly fired over the next point and the margin became two but part of what has made Cork so good this summer is their ability to roll with the punches. They managed the next two points. It could have been deemed a crisis averted but then Cork didn’t panic in the first place.

Like they didn’t against Waterford and Tipperary when they raised green flags.

“Any time they’ve got a goal, we’ve probably got the next point which makes a massive difference. Instead of having a four-point goal, it’s a two-point goal. It didn’t even affect us on Sunday.”

On the subject of his injury sustained in last year’s Division 1A game against Waterford, Spillane said: “You appreciate the game more, definitely, because you don’t think when you’re young you’ll get these long injuries. I got injured at the start of last year and missed the whole year. It takes a year off your career almost. To get training, get on the team, it just makes it all worth it. This year, it was just a dream come true to get on the team and winning a Munster final is brilliant.”

Spillane praised how defensively conscious the forwards were on Sunday. “It does start with the corner-forward, the full-forward line, the half-forward line. They work so hard. The ball coming in is spoiled a lot of the time so it gives us a chance. With (Anthony) Nash behind us, we know we can just break it to him most of the time.”

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