Counihan beams with pride after Cork win

Counihan beams with pride after Cork win

Having ended his county's 20-year wait for an All-Ireland SFC title at Croke Park yesterday, Cork manager Conor Counihan proclaimed that it was "a great day to be a Rebel".

It was a case of third time lucky for this Cork side as they banished the disappointment of All-Ireland final defeats to Kerry in 2007 and 2009 to deliver the Rebels' seventh ever Sam Maguire success.

"It says an awful lot about this team (to bounce back having lost two All-Irelands in the recent past)," said Counihan, in the aftermath of a one-point win over Down.

"They showed great courage and conviction over the years and now they have got their reward.

"I do hope other counties, the likes of Down and that, would take heart and know that failure is only the fuel for success.

"It's a great day to be a Rebel."

Counihan was delighted with his players' efforts in carving out a win. They had to bounce back from a five-point deficit in the 26th minute, doing so with a composed second half display.

"Everybody on the bench played a huge role too. We had fellas like (Anthony) Lynch who didn't get a run today. Those guys have made it for the other guys - fantastic."

With only one point separating the sides at the full-time whistle, the Aghada native was just thankful to come out on the right side of the result.

"There is a sense of relief, so we just sit back and enjoy the moment," he said. "Some people have a different way of expressing it. Maybe some fellas might be seen at 12pm or 2am expressing it!

"We will try and hold the head a small bit for now. It seems a long time, 20 years, but it's obviously fantastic for the lads.

"I think it made it all the sweeter that they showed the ultimate resolve and made it over the line. It's great for each and every one of them.

"When I spoke to them on Thursday night I said we have 30 odd good guys here, but also that there was an awful lot of guys who have been involved down through the years who had to move on.

"Those guys had as much of a part to play as you because they soldiered when the going was tough.

"In the last 20 years the likes of Billy (Morgan) and Larry (Tompkins) kept it going. We were very fortunate coming in to have a lot of work put in by people like John Cleary at Under-21 level, in the third level colleges Keith Ricken and people like that. We were landed with a fantastic group of people."

Counihan also highlighted the importance of having a positive outlook, while giving an insight into dealing with critics and the pressure of being All-Ireland favourites.

"We said at the outset of the year in terms of pressure, you can bring that on yourself. Critics can say, 'look you should be doing this or that', but if we are going to listen to that we are going nowhere.

"We have to maintain positivity. The best way we have managed that is to ignore those negative people and the critics.

"Some of them are quite legitimate. There are others who, unfortunately, whether it is sport or anything else do it on the basis that it earns dollars. In fairness to the people around here I think they have been very reasonable to us.

"But some people are exploiting it in public and exploiting it in sport, and not just our sport.

"I think that's a wider reflection on society. I am drifting away probably, but I do think positivity is the key to any success. You just shut down the negatives."

He added: "We learnt from experience that panic doesn't get us anywhere. We just have to steady it down.

"We had a few opportunities early on and we didn't finish them, but we were obviously creating a few.

"We faded a bit and came back a bit. We knew that we hadn't played our best football yet and we knew if could maintain our composure it would come and thankfully it did."

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