The scheduling of club championship games so close to Saturday’s All-Ireland final contributed to Cork’s nightmare start, manager Denis Ring has claimed.
Eight members of Ring’s panel played club championship the weekend before last, while 13 lined out with their club a fortnight before the All-Ireland final.
Ring felt the club games left his players “leggy” and lacking the freshness brought to the table by a Tipperary team which enjoyed an “uninterrupted” three-week run leading into the final.
“I think we were a little bit leggy starting today. The last couple of weeks, maybe, were hard on them, with matches and so on,” said Ring.
“Tipp were fresh and looked fresher than we did.
“They had three clear, uninterrupted weeks. We would have liked that and we had that last year.
“We looked a little bit leggy early on and maybe that contributed a little bit to it.
“We didn’t have that freshness.”
Tipperary had hit 14 goals in three games coming into the decider, but Cork opted against deploying a sweeper from the off for fear of inviting their opponents onto them.
“We had a deeplying midfielder coming into it. That was our strategy. We had match-ups that we thought were quite good and that worked in the Munster final.
“We were conscious too that we had a bit of a breeze in the first half, so all those things would have given us a bit of confidence about maybe taking them on.
When you go sweeping too early on, you are taking a lot away from your forward line and you could argue you are inviting them on as well.
“Even with a deep-lying midfielder, we did possibly invite them on.
“They went for the jugular early on. We expected they’d go for goals, they’ve been going for goals all year.
“In fairness to our defenders, we were conscious of it. They got the first goal, but we responded by getting the next three points and settled quite well, we thought.
“Then they worked up the field and got three goals in three minutes.
“It is very hard to legislate for that, very hard to do anything about it. Tipp are a team that are built for goals.”
The Cork boss accepted it was impossible to recover from such a dreadful opening eight minutes.
“I give our lads great credit for the manner in which they responded throughout the first-half. They kept the scoreboard ticking over. We were creating chances but weren’t asking enough questions of their goalkeeper.
“Second-half, we missed a couple of very good chances early on, scoreable frees, scoreable points. We got a good goal, maybe could have had another two.
“Look, you have to take those chances when you are chasing that lead. We were snatching at things. A small bit more composure and you might have done better in those situations.”
For this group, Saturday, following on from the All-Ireland minor final defeat to Galway two years ago, represented further final heartache.
“The only thing you would say is, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
“These lads have got to the last day of the competition each year for the last three years. Hopefully, that will stand them in good stead going forward. I think a number of them will go on to play for the Cork seniors and will make a significant impact going forward.”