Having been left scrambling for a pitch to train on during the early months of last year, the team block-booked a field in Fermoy this winter. But with no available gym nearby for strength and conditioning work, the players were forced to assemble a makeshift gym in an unused warehouse in the area.
When pressed for his thoughts on Cork’s training base after yesterday’s comprehensive McGrath Cup elimination to Kerry, Healy said they’re making do with what they have.
“Fermoy have been very good to us, for a start. We’re based in Fermoy at present and we’re going to CIT in March.
“The players have been very good, they’ve come together and taken ownership of it so we’re very happy in Fermoy at the moment.”
Healy did stress that the county board, not the players, financed the furnishing of the warehouse.
“We have Robbie Williams, he gave us the advice on it and the county board paid for [the gym equipment]. It can be a long way from Glengarriff to Fermoy, two and a half hours of a drive, but we’ll get on with it and that’s it.”
The Cork manager accepted that his team had played second fiddle to Kerry from the off yesterday, describing his charges as “ring-rusty” and requiring further game-time ahead of their Division 2 league opener away to Galway on February 5.
Kerry, through the lively Jack Savage (0-4, 0-1 free), James O’Donoghue and impressive wing-back Tom O’Sullivan, were six in front when Cork eventually found the target through Niall Coakley after a quarter of an hour. The St Jude’s newcomer was only one of three Cork players to write their names onto the score-sheet, with Brian O’Driscoll doubling their total shortly after.
Four points, however, was as close as they would come to their opponents and the gap was considerably widened when James O’Donoghue slotted a 20th minute penalty into the bottom right corner of Ken O’Halloran’s goal after the Cork ‘keeper had upended Na Gaeil’s Jack Barry.
Barry John Keane and Brendan O’Sullivan, the latter an early introduction for the injured Donnchadh Walsh, had the visitors 1-8 to 0-5 clear
come the interval. O’Sullivan, to his credit, fed the inside line with a number of fine passes from halfway, with Kerry’s directness and sharpness in the second half of the field standing in stark contrast to the several laboured Cork attacks which amounted to nothing - the home outfit converted only three of nine kicks at goal in the opening period and tallied eights wides upon the change of ends.
Played in front of 1,505 patrons, Kerry had stretched their advantage out to eight - 1-13 to 0-8 - when Niall Coakley, having pulled wide his 40th-minute penalty, bagged a Cork goal 10 minutes from time. Not that it had any on the final outcome as Kerry advanced to next weekend’s McGrath Cup decider against Limerick.
Kerry boss Éamonn Fitzmaurice was encouraged by the presence of James O’Donoghue in a green and gold shirt so early in the year - a variety of injuries in recent years meant yesterday’s fixture was his first McGrath Cup appearance since 2013.
“It’s good for us and it is good for him to be back early in the year. He is fit. He has worked hard over the winter and he is only mad for football. He is delighted to be back in the fold from the off.”
On Jack Savage’s six-point haul, Fitzmaurice commented: “When you train with the squad for the summer and haven’t made it onto the squads, you want to put down a marker early in the year when you get a chance. Hopefully, he’ll build on it next weekend.”
J O’Donoghue (1-3, 1-0 pen, 1 free); J Savage (0-6, 1 free); BJ Keane (0-2, 1 free); B O’Sullivan, T O’Sullivan (0-1 each).
N Coakley (1-5, 3 frees); G Murphy (0-3); B O’Driscoll (0-1).
B Kelly; J Foley, M Griffin, K Young; B Ó Beaglaoich, P Crowley, T O’Sullivan; J Barry, T Morley; J Lyne, M Geaney, D Walsh; BJ Keane, J Savage, J O’Donoghue.
B O’Sullivan for Walsh (13, inj); G Crowley for Ó Beaglaoich (43); R Shanahan for Foley (50); C Geaney for O’Donoghue (60); A Spillane for T O’Sullivan (61); D Daly for Geaney (68).
K O’Halloran; J Loughrey, K Histon, J McLoughlin; S Cronin, C Dorman, M Taylor; I Maguire, R Deane; S Powter, B O’Driscoll, M Collins; N Coakley, P Kelleher, K Davis.
A O’Donovan for Histon (20 mins); G Murphy for Powter (half-time); R O’Toole for Maguire (48); E Lavers for Loughrey (61); D O’Driscoll for Davis (60)
D O’Mahoney (Tipperary).