Eoin Cadogan was there in the good times. That’s if you can call them the good times. Even when Cork were ruling the roost, they were fair game. For all the silverware he collected, Conor Counihan was told he wasn’t getting enough out of his team.
Six years on and the brickbats fly thicker and faster. Following the loss to Tipperary, Darragh Ó Sé claimed they had become immune to shame.
It followed his brother Tomás’ remarks last year that they were “rudderless” and untrustworthy.
After the Longford game, Paul Kerrigan highlighted a local betting column that endorsed their Leinster hosts to beat Cork.
Obviously, Cadogan has a narrow view of Darragh Ó Sé’s views.
“The bottom line is these guys are looking for (website) hits. They’re taking your (media) work, guys! “I’m sure you’re delighted with it as well. Sensational headlines grab attention and that’s what people are looking for. He’s well able to put that into print so that must be Darragh’s opinion. It’s not just Darragh — there are loads of former players and people who have different opinions. Our job is to go out and perform.
“There tends to be a lot of negativity attached to Cork football but if you go back to 2008, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12 when Cork were doing well, reaching semi-finals and finals, there was still a huge amount of negativity attached to the squad. It was never good enough. We won three National League (Division 1) titles, beaten in an All-Ireland final in ’07, ’09, won ’10. It seems to be par for the course with Cork football.”
Cadogan agrees Counihan’s era is now remembered more fondly than it was regarded at the time.
“At the time, it was probably ‘ye got a handy All-Ireland’. I don’t see anyone winning any handy All-Ireland.”
Not that the Cork group, which has changed dramatically since have become more insular, but Cadogan admits they have been a tighter squad as a result. They know who have their backs.
“I think that in terms of the people that support us the whole way along, family, friends, the people that are there to pick the phone up after the shit hits the fan on the Monday morning after you’ve been beaten in championship or when things aren’t going well, they’re the people you want to repay.
“There are guys in my club when I came through the street league system that are still there doing the same coaching with the same enthusiasm.
“All those people are helping you, when you go out to represent your county or your club. I think they take a small bit of pride in that. It’s about giving back as much as possible by performing. Not talking about it — talking is over. It’s time to perform.”
The presence of the minors in an All-Ireland quarter-final curtain-raiser tomorrow afternoon only strengthens the communal resolve of those involved at the coalface of Cork football.
“There are a lot of household names in that backroom team with Noel O’Leary, Alan Quirke, Bernie Collins. They’re putting in a lot of work to them as well. I was talking to Noel recently and there are guys travelling from way down by Castletownbere up to the city.
“They leave at four o’clock to come up for training at six. That type of commitment at that type of age shows me what Cork football means to players.
“The least we can do is support those guys when they come up to play in Croke Park.”
Cadogan senses things are beginning to come together for Peadar Healy’s group.
“There’s no doubting that things didn’t go to plan during the year. We had a couple of setbacks but that’s happened to a lot of these players over the last number of years and we keep coming back. We’re a pretty resilient bunch.”
However he acknowledges Donegal have reason to be confident of beating them.
“If you look back over this year, last year, the year previous, we’ve played Donegal quite a bit like.
“They gave us a right trimming above in Ballyshannon (in February). They’ll take comfort in that too. They were 1-5 to 0-1 ahead after 20 minutes.
“From 2012 on, we’ve played them quite a bit. It’s not going to change a whole pile. What you see is what you get with Donegal, they’re a hard-working team. There are a lot of guys with experience there, a lot of All-Ireland winners.”
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