Eight months into their term and the Cork management continue to grapple with the single biggest issue to have plagued the county’s footballers since 2013.
Consistency is a word that has been checked by almost every Cork player and member of management at one point or another since January.
Each has their own take on the situation, interpretations ranging from “achieving consistency of performance”, “changing the fact that you never really know what you are going to get from us”, “being switched on all the time” to selector Eoin O’Neill’s latest offering: “We want to try and get consistent in the way we perform.”
The very fact management are still beating the consistency drum ahead of Sunday’s championship opener tells you all you need to know with regard to their efforts in setting this particular record straight during the spring.
Lessons, O’Neill insists, have been heeded from a disappointing league campaign and with relegation to Division 2 placed in the rearview mirror, the squad’s focus is centred on the trip to Thurles and the Munster final berth at stake.
So, what Cork can we expect on Sunday? The Cork which outscored Mayo 0-12 to 0-4 in the first-half of their league meeting, the Cork which conceded 4-25 at home to Roscommon or the Cork which hit Dublin for 1-4 without reply in the opening 19 minutes of their meeting at Croke Park before the All-Ireland champions dominated the second-half 1-11 to 0-3.
“We are trying to get more realistic about where we are,” said O’Neill.
“We are in a phase where we want to try and get more consistent in the way we perform.
“We learned from the league that when we play well we can put it up to anyone. We played Mayo and played very well. We played Monaghan and played very well. We played Down and played well enough. We played well against Dublin, albeit we didn’t win. We know when we get it right, when fellas are in tune and everything is going right we can compete.
“The flipside is when you are a little bit off at this level, we saw the outcome of that in a couple of the games we played. That is the big learning curve that we have to be on it all the time.
“When we get that right, we can be very competitive.”
It is 1944 since Tipperary last toppled Cork in the Munster championship and while O’Neill wouldn’t be drawn on the smash and grab Munster semi-final win of two years ago, he is adamant the gap between Cork, Kerry and the chasing pack is narrowing.
“Clare are up to Division 2, Tipperary were very unlucky not to be going up to Division 2. That gap is definitely after closing. You can see it at underage, especially with Tipperary in the last couple of years. We haven’t had the success in the last couple of years to be able to turn around and say we will be miles ahead of these people. If you are not 100% on your game, they have the quality to hurt you.”
Tipperary manager Liam Kearns, addressing the media after their win over Waterford last month, said Cork “won’t be quaking in their boots” off the back of the Premier county’s quarter-final win.
The Cork management were present in Dungarvan and aren’t buying into the picture being painted by the opposition that theirs is a severely depleted outfit.
“Liam said he has no players and he has 10 players of last year’s team playing.
“We are well aware of the quality players they have. Some of those players, they would be on any team in Ireland. That is a fact. That is not hearsay or easy talk. We know how good they are.”
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