John Meyler: Last five minutes of first half ‘critical’

They hadn’t even put the cup in the front of the bus when John Meyler began sizing up Cork’s next assignment.

John Meyler: Last five minutes of first half ‘critical’

They hadn’t even put the cup in the front of the bus when John Meyler began sizing up Cork’s next assignment.

It’s a forward-thinking approach which has been shaped by his son, David, the Irish and Hull City midfielder. He made his way into the Cork dressing-room not long after Munster title number 53 had been secured.

“The focus is now on Croke Park, in four weeks’ time. We need to get it right. We didn’t get it right last year,” said the Cork manager.

“With 10 or 12 minutes to go, we were two points up. We had a sending-off and the whole thing just opened up. I’ll drive that into the players over the next few days.”

Cork manager John Meyler celebrates with fans after victory over Clare in the Munster SHC final at Semple Stadium. Picture: Morgan Treacy
Cork manager John Meyler celebrates with fans after victory over Clare in the Munster SHC final at Semple Stadium. Picture: Morgan Treacy

When asked about the significance of this group backing up last year’s Munster success, Meyler didn’t cast a single glance in the rearview mirror. As David has told him umpteen times, don’t look back.

“In fairness to David, he has really focused on, ‘forget about what has gone on’. The GAA is kind of over-the-top in terms of thinking about the game that’s gone, instead of focusing on the game [in front of you]. There is no looking back and saying, ‘we have won two Munsters in-a-row’. That’s gone. It’s finished with. It’s over.

We now go to Croke Park and we need to step it up again. I have no doubt that we will, because there was incredible character there today.

“We need to rectify what went on last year. That’s not acceptable, what happened against Waterford. That’s the bottom line.”

What also needs rectifying is why Cork were so off-colour for the opening half an hour, the Clare forwards leading them on a merry dance.

“We need to focus on why we were sloppy for 25, 30 minutes. John Conlon cleaned us early on. In fairness, Colm Spillane went in and he negated him. We got those matchups right, I think. Some of the point-taking in the second-half was incredible.”

Munsrter GAA Chairman Jerry O'Sullivan presents the trophy to Cork's Seamus Harnedy. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy
Munsrter GAA Chairman Jerry O'Sullivan presents the trophy to Cork's Seamus Harnedy. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Mind you, it wasn’t their second-half tally of 1-14 which won them this provincial crown.

It was the closing two minutes of the first-half. That, Meyler was certain about.

“Really, the game was won in the last five minutes of the first-half, when we went eight points down and got it back to four. To go in four points down at half-time was critical.

“In fairness to Donal (O’Mahony) and Fraggy (Kieran Murphy), we got our composure back. Our work-rate wasn’t good enough in the first-half. We were sloppy; we were a yard behind Clare, so all we needed to do at half-time was to get that composure back and, in fairness, the two lads did that at half-time.”

Luke Meade of Cork celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Munster Final against Tipperary. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Luke Meade of Cork celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the Munster Final against Tipperary. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Corner-back Sean O’Donoghue was the sole Cork hurler playing in his first Munster final and he thanked Meyler for the faith he showed in him at the outset of the campaign.

“It is an honour to win this. It has been a dream from a young age,” said the 22-year old.

“Stephen McDonnell is not here, so that opened up a spot for three or four fellas, all fighting for the one position. Meyler put me under pressure to get into that position, put his faith in me, and I am just trying to repay that.”

O’Donoghue was part of a full-back line under severe pressure in the opening half, but chose to focus instead on their second-half effort.

We were in a happy place at half-time. We showed character before half-time to get it back to four points. We knew, going out for the second-half, that if we performed, no team would stop us. That is the way it happened.

“John Conlon was excellent in the first-half, but we clamped down on him in the second-half. We handled it well.

“We just needed to hold our shape and make sure we were in a good position. Every time they got a score, we just needed to remain calm and treat the next ball as the most important. That’s how we played in the second-half.”

Onto Croker they go, O’Donoghue having never played a hurling match at GAA HQ.

“I played school’s football there when I was in sixth-year in Coláiste Choilm, Ballincollig. It is going to be a big day.”

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