Limerick’s seven-point Munster SFC win over Tipperary last month ensured there was no possibility of Cork taking the Treaty men lightly, according to debutant Eoghan McSweeney.
The Knocknagree attacker was one of three players — along with Clonakilty’s Liam O’Donovan and Nathan Walsh of Douglas — given their championship bows as Cork began their campaign with a 3-18 to 0-6 win at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday to set up a Munster final meeting with Kerry on June 22.
Three goals in the opening 13 minutes, two from Brian Hurley and one by Ruairí Deane, put Ronan McCarthy’s side firmly in control.
But McSweeney insisted there was no complacency in the Cork camp, especially as they joined Tipperary in the drop from Division Two earlier this spring.
“Tipperary hadn’t seen anything of Limerick, whereas we had,” McSweeney said of their opponents.
“We knew what they would bring to the table, we had seen them and reviewed them.
“If we hadn’t (had that work done) then we might have got caught. In fairness to the lads, we prepared for them like any other team. The key thing was not to give them any momentum.
“For the first 10 or 15 minutes, we targeted, not to necessarily get the game done, but to get on top. It couldn’t have gone better that way.
“Everyone got their few scores and grew into the game. Brian [Hurley] took the two goals very well and, after that, it was ‘keep the pedal down and not relent’.”
Having impressed as Duhallow reached last year’s county final, McSweeney was given a firm grounding in intercounty fare during the league.
While he admitted there was a noticeable increase in intensity, he marked his championship introduction with three points.
“There was a big step up,” he said. “The pace of the game was the main thing.
“Limerick, in fairness, they never really gave in, even when the game was done, so the pace was a big difference compared to the league.
“You were never allowed to stop on your feet, you were moving the whole time.
“To get on the scoresheet is a bonus, but, from general play, you’re just happy to get on the ball.
“It’s like any other game, you want to get on the ball and the three points are a nice extra.
Leading by 3-8 to 0-2 at half time, Cork had gone without a score between the 22nd and 34th minutes, but they pushed on again in the second half.
“You can say what you want, but in every game there’ll be a small bit of complacency,” McSweeney said.
“Even in the last 10 minutes of the first half, we took the foot off a bit and we came in at half time and we were addressing that.
“In the second half, we got 10 points and we were keeping the ball. Limerick flooded back, they didn’t want to push up to leave themselves open and we just kept saying to keep the pedal down and keep going.”
A much bigger test now awaits in the final against the Kingdom in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, but McSweeney is looking forward to it.
“It’s about resetting,” he said. “We’ll get back in, we’ve been working very hard, we know ourselves what we’re capable of.
“It’s going to be completely different, we know that ourselves, but we’ll be knuckling down and we can only play what’s in front of us.”
Dalo's Hurling Show: Tipp quench the inferno. Kiely's statement. The Déise inquest
Derek McGrath and Ger Cunningham review the weekend's hurling with Anthony Daly