The concession of two goals during Tyrone’s spell of superiority is what undid the Cork challenge in today’s Super 8 fixture at Croke Park, said manager Ronan McCarthy.
Ahead by 2-6 to 0-6 after 41 minutes, Cork were hit for 2-2 without reply during a four-minute Tyrone burst which saw Mickey Harte’s men turn a six-point deficit into a two-point lead.
Within the blink of an eye, the northerners had wiped out Cork’s entire first-half body of work, an opening period where Ronan McCarthy's charges were patient and penetrative upfront, organised and disciplined further back.
“I thought we managed the game very well in the first-half, textbook really, we were very patient. It wasn’t pretty on the eye but that is not our fault as the last thing we wanted to do is to take the ball into contact.
“We were patient, we probed, we waited for our opportunities. I thought we did that really well. As the first-half wore on, we were caught, two or three times, taking the ball into contact. And we started the second-half quite well, but then when they had their period of dominance, we conceded too much," said Cork manager McCarthy.
“They are obviously a very experienced side, a top side, and they were probably going to have a period of dominance. Critical from our point of view was that we conceded so much so quickly. We went from six up to two down in the space of four minutes, which is poor from our point of view. But, at least, we came back and kept at it, kept going up the field and kept trying to score.
“As it went on, I felt the game was played more on Tyrone's terms than it was ours. We never, as the game went on, looked tight enough at the back. They looked like they could score a lot of the times they went down, but we never get too hung up about whether you are ahead or behind at half-time. It was the quick concession of so much, so quickly.”
McCarthy was adamant that Cork being outscored 0-5 to 0-1 between the 61st and 70th minute was not due to fatigue. The Rebels had a similar fade-out against Dublin the week previous, although on this occasion two injury-time points did bring them back into contention approaching the final whistle.
“We have played Kerry, Dublin, and Tyrone now, you are talking about an elite level. Our game management, at times, probably let us down a small bit. It is the kind of thing you can talk about, decision-making and all of that, but you only learn it against the elite teams when you are under pressure in big matches. We have had a lot of learning in those games.”
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