Cork football inconsistency no longer an issue, says Mark White

The inconsistency which plagued Cork football in recent seasons is no longer an issue, according to goalkeeper Mark White.

Cork football inconsistency no longer an issue, says Mark White

The inconsistency which plagued Cork football in recent seasons is no longer an issue, according to goalkeeper Mark White.

Despite a dreadful start to their Division 2 league campaign earlier this year, which included three defeats in their opening four games, Ronan McCarthy’s charges have put together an impressive catalogue of displays since overcoming Tipperary, away from home, in round five of the league on March 2.

In their last 10 outings, across the league, championship, and challenge-game circuit, eight victories have been recorded, with Cork’s two defeats coming at the hands of Sam Maguire contenders Donegal and Kerry.

The corner they’ve turned during this time was evident in the latter reverse, Cork refusing to self-destruct when falling seven behind after just 13 minutes of Munster final action.

Where the tendency of this Cork team was to collapse when finding itself in a sticky patch, as recently acknowledged by captain Ian Maguire, they did anything but at Páirc Uí Chaoimh two weeks ago. In the words of manager Ronan McCarthy earlier this week, Cork, nowadays, head into a game knowing rather than hoping that they will give a proper account of themselves.

“Consistency was part of our problem, going back through last year. I think we’re after finding that,” said goalkeeper Mark White.

We’ve got some consistency going and we’re starting to play to our potential, which is always good. We know from ourselves that, if we play well, we have the potential to match anyone. I think people are starting to see that now.

“The focus is on Saturday and trying to put in another good performance. People might see us as the favourites but we aren’t looking past Laois. We’ve identified that they have very good long-range point-takers, the Kingston brothers [Donie and Paul] especially, so we really need to perform as well as we did against Kerry and hopefully, get over the line.”

The UCC Commerce student, reflecting on the Munster final defeat, pointed to decision-making and composure in front of goal as the two areas where Cork must improve ahead of this Saturday’s fourth-round qualifier, a hurdle which has tripped the county up each summer going back to 2015.

“We knew we had a good chance of winning the Munster final if we played to our capabilities. It was disappointing to come away with a loss, especially as we had chances. But there were a lot of positives to take from it and the mood has been good in the camp since.”

On his own Munster final showing, White, who made his championship debut last summer, added: “Maybe there were one or two kickouts that went astray but, other than that, it was fine. Unless the opposition drop off and you go short with everything, it’s rare you’d get 100 per cent. But you just have to strive for perfection.”

Stephen Cluxton’s accuracy off the kicking tee has considerably enhanced the importance of restarts and ball retention, but the Clonakilty man, brother of Sean, places equal value on the shot-stopping side of the job.

Mark White makes a save from Liam Casey of Tipp in last year's Munster semi-final. Picture: Sportsfile
Mark White makes a save from Liam Casey of Tipp in last year's Munster semi-final. Picture: Sportsfile

“One or two goals can kill a game so you have to have the [shot-stopping up to scratch]. Talking to the backs is probably one of the aspects I need to sharpen up on. It’s something I try to practise because the right communication can definitely eliminate some of the chances for the opposition.”

The Cork team for Saturday shows two changes from the side which came up three points short of Kerry. Tom Clancy, despite Ronan McCarthy admitting that the Clonakilty man’s ankle is still troubling him, comes in for Tomás Clancy, with Kevin O’Driscoll replacing Paul Kerrigan. Nathan Walsh is named at corner-back, but uncertainty surrounds his involvement at Semple Stadium after McCarthy, on Monday, said the Douglas footballer is unlikely to make the game.

Cork: M White; N Walsh, J Loughrey, K Flahive; L O’Donovan, T Clancy (Clonakilty), M Taylor; I Maguire, K O’Hanlon; K O’Driscoll, S White, R Deane; L Connolly, B Hurley, M Collins.

Subs: M Martin, K O’Donovan, A Browne, S Cronin, T Clancy (Fermoy), C Kiely, R O’Toole, E McSweeney, P Kerrigan, M Hurley, S Sherlock.

Anthony Daly reviews the hurling weekend with Brian Hogan, TJ Ryan and Ger Cunningham. In association with Renault - car partners of the GAA.

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