Cork manager Ephie Fitzgerald and captain Ciara O’Sullivan felt the manner in which they were written off coming into yesterday’s final was both “disrespectful” and “hurtful”.
A clearly distraught O’Sullivan, who was unsuccessful in her bid for a ninth All-Ireland medal, took umbrage with how Cork were given little or no chance in the days leading up to the game.
We gave it our all and the girls fought really hard, but it is just a horrible place to be,” the Cork captain began.
“You can’t fault any player or member of management for effort, either today or throughout the year. It is a young team. I’d like to think we’ll be back. I don’t think anyone gave us any chance beforehand, and for people who train so hard all year, it was quite hurtful and somewhat disrespectful. We gave a good account of ourselves and can have no complaints.
“We brought it back to a point in the second half and had a chance. There is the risk that when you are chasing a game, you can leave yourself a small bit open at the back. That did happen. We did go for it and got caught at the back.”
Fitzgerald, similarly, wasn’t impressed with the pre-match chat.
“I would agree with Ciara that writing us off was, I found, disrespectful. I don’t think anybody could have dealt with the change we have over the last number of years and be back in a final competing again.
There is no doubt we’ll be back. It may be a learning experience for the girls, but we have made huge progress this year. We’ll be expecting to make more going forward.
The Cork manager, attempting to mastermind a second All-Ireland victory in three years, said he was “immensely proud” of his charges, particularly their fearless second-half display.
“Early on, first-half particularly, we didn’t stick to our game-plan and were a little bit nervous. Having said that, they worked their socks off. On another day, it might have gone our way. But over the years, Cork have come out on the right side of tight results. Today was a little bit different.
“At half-time, we knew there was more in us. Four points wasn’t an insurmountable lead. They never gave up. They ploughed into it. Eimear Scally had a chance which was cleared off the line, which would have put us ahead. Maybe, that was the little spurt we needed.
“The key for Dublin was that they got goals at vital times. We had it back to a point when they got their third goal. They have a very good forward line. They are experienced. Hats off to them.”
Even though four members of the Cork defence - Eimear Meaney, Melissa Duggan, Maire O’Callaghan and Emma Spillane - were playing in their first All-Ireland, Fitzgerald wasn’t the least bit surprised with how they held their own against a Dublin attack which has a combined haul of 15 All-Star awards. The Jackies have been averaging 4-13 a game for the past two summers. They were a bit below that here.
“We pride ourselves on our defence. It was a testament to Maire O’Callaghan, Eimear Meaney and these girls. They really stood up against a formidable forward line. I am bitterly disappointed [with the result], but I’m also very proud. I’ve been around sport long enough to know when an honest effort has been given and our girls could not have given any more today.
“Maybe the little bit of experience told for Dublin . We had a lot of girls playing their first final today. Dublin’s game-management, at times, was a little bit better than ours.”