Kelleher acknowledged the better side had won and also that the failure of some of his team’s leading lights to show up had more to do with Ballyea’s brilliance than anything else.
The first-half, or at least its closing 11 minutes, made for nightmare viewing from a Glen Rovers perspective. Six points conceded without reply and hardly a single player draped in the three-tone shirt able to lay a glove on their opposite number. Shades of their 2014 county final annihilation at the hands of Sarsfields, if we’re being honest.
“We were in a big hole at half-time and we had a few angry words,” said the Glen Rovers manager.
“When we go down, we got to go down fighting and I think we did that. We came into it in a big way in the second-half, but they pulled away again. The best team won on the day.
“We only scored four points in the first-half, so, probably, that gap at half-time was too big. We gave away a soft goal as well, one of our lads got caught on the wrong side. They were in and he stuck it. We missed a couple of frees too.
“Being honest, I thought a couple of our bigger guys didn’t turn up today. Some days they deliver for us, some days they don’t. We are not going to knock them. That is just the way it is. We died with our boots on and we can’t ask for more.”
Management made several moves in a bid to reignite their forward unit, but it just never came together for the Blackpool outfit.
“We brought Patrick Horgan into full-forward and we brought Patrick out. We put David Cunningham in full-forward. We put David Busteed centre-forward. We brought Stephen McDonnell out midfield. We tried everything. We can fault the players, we can’t fault ourselves.”
Conor Dorris’ goal strikes on 32 and 38 minutes handed the Cork champions a lifeline. The gap, though, was never tighter than three points.
“The goals gave us hope, but the fact that it was never less than three is a sign of how good a team they are.
“They were tougher than us, they were better hurlers than us. They were really strong in the tackle.
"When we go back to Cork, we are strong in the tackle. Today, they were stronger than us. Maybe that just shows you the standard of inter-county hurling and where Cork is at the moment. We need to get that bit of steel into us. Cork don’t seem to have that at the moment. That’s everybody’s challenge.”
Losing captain Graham Callanan suggested the occasion might have been a factor.
“A lot of our lads were new to Thurles and Ballyea had a couple of lads who had played inter-county and would be used to playing here. I don’t know if we were overawed. Some games there are no explanations for it. They came out at 100 miles an hour and we just couldn’t live with them in the first half.”