JBM: We must accept that Clare deserved it

JIMMY Barry-Murphy was his usual composed self at the final whistle in Croke Park tonight.

JBM: We must accept that Clare deserved it

The maelstrom had subsided out on the field, but there were plenty of spectators still catching their breath when the Cork icon addressed the media.

As ever, he was frank about the pulsating contest we'd just seen.

“My initial thoughts are that both days, really, we were playing catch-up from the word go,” said the Cork manager

“The first thing about that situation is that you've got to do everything right, but eventually, if you don't take everything that goes your way – it's got to be perfect – and our luck eventually ran out. We were beaten by a much better team on the day. On both days, I've got to acknowledge, they deserved it.”

Still Cork fought back from an eight-point deficit, and levelled the game in the second half. If they'd nudged their noses ahead . . .

“That's one of the great imponderables, if we'd taken our chances when we got back level, it might have been a different story, but we didn't. There was just too much leeway to make up and our luck eventually ran out.

“After going eight points down our performance in the ten minutes before half-time and after the break – our lads were outstanding. We made some changes and the subs who came in made a difference. It's tough for us, but on both days you have to acknowledge they were the better team.”

Barry-Murphy confirmed that Cork had learned Shane O'Donnell was coming in for Darach Honan ahead of the throw-in: “We heard before the game, he got a goal against us in the league in Pairc Ui Rinn, he's a very good player and posed a lot of problems, but in fairness it was the quality of the ball coming into their full-forward line which caused us problems.”

Not surprisingly, the Rebel boss was more inclined to focus on his side's comeback.

“It's not a cliche, but they were fantastic for us both days, showed tremendous spirit, showed fabulous pride in Cork hurling. They've been fantastic for us all year and I couldn't fault them by one iota. We'll take our defeat like men and we'll move on.

“We got back level but we were chasing down an eight-point lead and one slip and the doubts come back in. They got the goals and in fairness they were brilliant scores. They just had too much firepower for us.

“Eight points is a huge lead but the spirit and attitude the lads showed was great. I'm sure it was a great gàme fór people to watch, but we are where we are.”

Barry-Murphy confirmed that Cork had worked hard on their puck-out strategy ahead of the replay, but he also acknowledged that sometimes a game throws up a hero nobody saw coming.

“We did (work on puck-outs), we always do, it's not down to the keeper alone, it's a collective responsibility. Up to ten minutes before half-time we were struggling, not winning enough and their midfielders and half-back line were launching quality ball, which caused us problems. Then we got back into the game but our luck ran out.

“Pa (Cronin) had a great game today and he's been an excellent captain for us all year. You can't legislate for someone like Shane O'Donnell getting three goals, that's just something that happens.

Credit to Clare, they got great scores.”

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