Lacklustre Cork ‘had one eye on Kerry’

Former Cork midfielder Nicholas Murphy does not feel that too much can be read into the Rebels’ narrow victory over Tipperary on Saturday evening.

Cork needed a strong finish, with Aidan Walsh kicking three late points, to assure themselves of a two-point victory despite having gone in as big favourites. Murphy insists Munster games against opposition other than Kerry can never be used as an accurate barometer.

“People will be slating them,” he said, “probably mainly people who weren’t at the match, but they’ll know that they weren’t at the level that they should have been at.

“You never go out to play badly, but the earlier games are always a different kettle of fish. It’s hard to understand, sometimes you might go out and have the game won by half-time but then lose to Kerry, other years we scraped by and then beat Kerry well.

“The bottom line is that the objective was to go out and win and they did that. I certainly wouldn’t be writing them off after one match, the league was a success by and large and I’ve no doubt that they’ll be well-tuned for Kerry.”

Often, teams which narrow avoid defeat to underdogs can go on to benefit from the close call.

“You know you shouldn’t look too far ahead and you shouldn’t look further than the next game,” Murphy said, “but look at Mayo in 2012, they only barely beat London and then managed to get to the All-Ireland final.

“Even the Cork hurlers this year, they scraped a draw with Waterford, then beat them well and now they’ve beaten Clare. I certainly wouldn’t be reading too much into it, and there are positives to take. Cork got finished strongly and Aidan Walsh did well despite not having played much football, he’ll be primed for the Munster final and he led when they needed it.

“With those games, if you have a big win people will say you weren’t tested, so you’re damned no matter what you do.”

Murphy’s former team-mate Joe Kavanagh believes a defeat might even have been a blessing in disguise for Cork.

“Perish the thought, but it mightn’t have been a bad thing if Cork had lost,” he said.

“In other years, Cork had enough of a squad that they knew they’d get to the August weekend and beat whoever they met there. The squad now is newer and you can’t beat the experience that playing championship matches gives you.

“The Munster final is little more than shadow-boxing now, and if Cork beat Kerry – which I think they will – it’s a lay-off again until the All-Ireland quarter-finals, when you’d be going up against a side with three or four good games under their belt in a short space of time.”

Like Murphy, Kavanagh is of the view that Cork are better off having things to work on ahead of July 6.

“No matter what you might say, it’s nearly impossible not to have one eye on Kerry,” he said. “It was a wake-up call, both for players and management, but sometimes you need that.”

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