Slocum, who won back-to-back All-Ireland medals in 1989 and ‘90, is not overly concerned at the prospect of Cork plying their trade in Division 2 next spring but is concerned abut the psychological repercussions of suffering relegation at the hands of Kerry.
Cork, he predicts, will be present in Killarney for Munster final weekend in early July and victory on Sunday would have represented a “huge morale boost”.
What has instead transpired is Cork now face into a 10-week lay-off off the back of a “negative” spring campaign.
“If you look back over the last couple of years, we have made the play-off stages of the league almost every year and at the end of the day, it didn’t do us a whole pile of good,” said Slocum.
“The problem for this team is that with new management in, I imagine they would have wanted to stay up just for the sake of morale and to get the year off to a good start. To get relegated at the end of that is a negative.
“It doesn’t do a whole pile for confidence. There is no getting away from the fact that going to Tralee and getting relegated down there (will hurt).
“It doesn’t matter if you are relegated in Dublin or Monaghan, but at the same time, the one place you don’t want to be getting relegated is in Tralee. You will be going back down to Kerry in the summer, well, hopefully, and had they won yesterday, it would have been a huge morale boost.
“With the new management team, they would have been anxious to go to Kerry and get a win because when you are a coach you need confidence as well.
“I suppose it would have been a big win for them had they done it and stayed up down there as well. It would have been a big plus. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen.”
Having failed in their bid for survival, Slocum said Peadar Healy’s charges had also failed in their bid to achieve a consistent run of form.
“I don’t want to be critical of anybody, but at the same time, if you are relegated, you can’t really say you are consistent.
“Consistency comes down to players. Each fella that goes out onto the pitch, no matter what is he is playing, be it a challenge, league or championship game, wants to play well. Consistency is performing game in, game out. It is just not happening [with Cork]. I don’t know how you go about rectifying that. It is a player problem, not a manager problem.”
Thirty-four players were trialled by management over the course of the spring and Slocum insists positives can be gleaned from the performances of newcomers Kevin Crowley, Ryan Price, Ian Maguire, Luke Connolly and Peter Kelleher. The infusion of youth by management has forced the more experienced players to up their game; a necessity, Slocum believes, as players were getting comfortable.
“Maguire is a certainty for a starting berth. The others, to be fair to them, have done well. That is something that was needed in Cork football. You need players coming through the whole time and putting pressure on the older guys.
“For a long time now, we have had players playing with no real pressure on them to perform because there was nothing coming up behind them.
“When new players come on the scene, there is a pressure then on players to perform. And if you don’t, there is a chance someone is going to take your place. I would hope these young lads get a chance come championship.
“There is no doubt that the league this year would have benefitted them.”
Former Cork footballer Colman Corrigan added: “We have all said that on their day, Cork are a match, if not better, than anybody. The problem is repeating the process. You have got to put performances back-to-back Sunday after Sunday to win an All-Ireland. I think they would still be a little bit worried about their inconsistent form.”
Cork’s footballers escaped serious sanctions in Tralee on Sunday, with management forced to remove a player from the official panel shortly before throw-in.
Niall Coakley of the St Jude’s club in Dublin was originally named on the Cork senior football panel for the crunch NFL game with Kerry but the former Carrigaline player was discovered to be ineligible due to an issue with his transfer to the Dublin club, and had to be withdrawn from consideration before the game.
If Coakley had lined out, Cork would have been liable for severe punishment, ranging from a heavy fine to the possible loss of a home game in next year’s league.