Ronan McCarthy has taken umbrage with those who class this weekend’s Super 8 fixture between Cork and Roscommon as a dead-rubber.
Both counties came off second best against Dublin and Tyrone and so are out of the running for an All-Ireland semi-final berth, but that does not mean Sunday’s clash at Páirc Uí Rinn is a meaningless fixture, argued the Cork boss.
“[The term dead-rubber] annoys me. If you had an A versus B game in training, there is competition in that. This is an inter-county championship match with two points at stake. People who say there is nothing riding on it don’t appreciate high-level sports,” said McCarthy.
“High-level sports teams, be it training or whatever, always prepare properly and always go out to try and win.
“There might be people out there saying it is not important, but it is important to us and it is important to finish our season with a win.”
He added: “The key thing is this will be our sixth championship game of the year. You saw from the Dublin and Tyrone games that we need games like that against the top teams. Roscommon is another top-eight team that we get to test ourselves against.”
Reflecting on their opening two games in the Super 8s, the Cork boss admitted there is a strong sense of opportunity lost.
“Going into the Super 8s, I would have seen it as massively important for this group that we had guaranteed ourselves, at a minimum, three more championship games. It was two seasons of championship games in one.
“But at this point, we would have regrets at it being a missed opportunity. We haven’t shied away from that, neither have the players. We have to accept responsibility. The Tyrone game was in our hands. The concession of 2-2 in four minutes was obviously significant. We got back level after that but probably lacked that small bit of guile to get home. There is no question we have regrets and a sense of missed opportunity, but we just have to deal with it.”
McCarthy said there are injury concerns surrounding six players ahead of the Roscommon visit, five of whom — Brian and Michael Hurley, James Loughrey, Seán Powter and Kevin Flahive — featured last time out against Tyrone.
He believes “a lot of those guys won’t make it”.
“Brian got a very bad bang coming up to half-time in the Tyrone game. He was in trouble at half-time but we obviously gave him a few minutes at the start of the second-half. He hasn’t really recovered from that. He played last Friday night for Castlehaven in their league final. Michael Hurley picked up a dead leg in the same game. James Loughrey (lining out for Mallow) went off in that Division 2 decider against Castlehaven.
“Seán Powter, nothing too serious, don’t think he’ll be ready for the weekend. Kevin Flahive and Nathan Walsh didn’t play in Douglas’ league final on Saturday. We have a good five or six that we won’t really know until closer to the game and yet we face into the situation where we must put in a 26 on Thursday morning.”
With every county required to send in a starting team and 11 subs on the Thursday morning before a game, McCarthy is of the opinion the GAA should publish all panels on Thursday as opposed to the current drip-feed of team news across Thursday evening, all of Friday, and Saturday morning.
He’d also favour putting back the deadline for panel submissions to Friday morning as knocks are regularly picked up at Thursday evening training sessions.
“If every management has to put in a team by Thursday morning, why not get the GAA to release them all at that point. If they can’t be changed after Thursday morning, why not send them all out there and then. I don’t know what the big deal is.”