Eoin Cadogan has never taken kindly to the air of negativity that has hovered for so long over the Cork footballers but he accepts that the one-point win over Waterford in Saturday’s Munster Championship opener was nowhere near the standard required, writes Brendan O’Brien.
The Douglas man is still recovering from injury, and so sat in the stands at Fraher Field over the weekend, but he was an impassioned speaker on the subject of the county team at an eir Sport football championship launch in Croke Park on Monday afternoon.
"Bottom line is that we know ourselves as players that Saturday night wasn’t good enough,” he admitted. “The amount of work that fellas have put in for the last seven weeks - and I’m not saying it for the sake of it - was unbelievable.
"They have put in a massive shift and Saturday night’s performance didn’t reflect the amount of work. For whatever reason that is, I can’t put my finger on it, but what I do know is that our objective was to be in a Munster semi-final and we are there.”
Awaiting Cork in two week’s time will be a Tipperary side that reached an All-Ireland semi-final last year and one that accounted for their rivals in the penultimate stage of the provincial championship on the way. Much more will be required of Peadar Healy’s men then.
Waterford lined up in ultra-defensive mode against the visitors and that tactic, allied to their conditioning, discipline and structure - not to mention Cork’s self-inflicted difficulties - made the Rebels sweat right up to the final whistle.
Cork have flattered to deceive in recent seasons despite a conveyor belt of talent accustomed to success at underage levels and yet Cadogan was correct in pointing out that it was a platoon of the older brigade that dug them out of such an unfashionable hole against the Division Four side.
Two stoppage time points dragged the visitors over the line and the input of the veterans when it counted was probably summed up best by Donncha O’Connor who came off the bench to claim three points in the second-half.
Yet youth has been given its chance, too.
“If you were to scan through the team on Saturday night Kevin Crowley, Stephen Cronin, Tom Clancy, Rory Deane, Ian Maguire came on, Gary Murphy came on. All those guys are 23 or 24 so those guys are being used and training as much as anybody else.
"You can’t control who is going to be picked. Opinions are opinions. We can’t control that. I have said this numerous times: when Cork were going well, winning National League titles, the All-Ireland in 2010, it was never good enough. ’Aw, ye should have won more, ye should have won this and that’.
"Now it hasn’t changed, the perception of Cork hasn’t changed, rightly or wrongly. Maybe that’s our fault as players. The dynamic of the team that was there 2007 to 2012 has completely changed and nobody can tell me any different.
"We have a lot younger guys and whilst they have won underage that is fine but senior is a total different ball game. It is to try get ourselves up there, not even to compete with the top four, but just to get wins under our belts and confidence is a big thing.”