Hopeful Hayes says Cork have circled wagons

Some day soon the Cork footballers will stop hearing about that double-digit defeat to Kerry a few weeks ago.

For John Hayes the memory of that Munster final is even worse, given the red card he picked up in that game.

“I was a little disappointed not to start, then watching the game unfold – though I thought we were coming into it after half-time, we got a few scores but they killed it off, and no better team to do that.

“When I came in it was a bit of a lost cause, nine or ten points down, but you still want to do something positive.

“Kerry were playing a lot of keep-ball, I tried to catch a guy with a shoulder but he side-stepped me, I stuck out an arm and that was it.”

Suspension means training in a vacuum, of course.

“That’s the punishment for one second of losing your composure,” says Hayes.

At the first session after the Munster final we were doing hard running – which we deserved – and you know you’re not going to play in the match.

“It’s tough, a new situation for me, but it’s done and hopefully I’ll be in contention the next day. I’ve trained away but the lads did the business the last day and you can’t take it for granted that you’ll get a game the next day.”

He says he “completely understands” the anger of Cork supporters.

“I wasn’t too surprised — I’ve been around a while and when you have bad performances like that you expect a reaction.

“I’m lucky I’m not on social media so I probably avoided the worst of it, but you hear people talking . . .

“You have to expect that after a twelve-point defeat to Kerry in a Munster final, you have to expect a reaction. It might be harder for some of the younger fellas but you need a thick skin at this level, you have to react in the right way. We circled the wagons, looked forward, and tried to learn lessons from the game. You don’t become a bad team overnight.

“Losing heavily to Kerry in the last Munster final in the old Páirc Uí Chaoimh, though . . . You can’t let it get to you as long as it’s not personal. That’s when people get annoyed, when it’s personal. If it’s about football or constructive you hold your hand up, but when it’s over the top you let it ride off you, get yourself back to the training field to work hard.”

Hayes sees the anomaly in a team that doesn’t draw a huge following attracting vitriol in such large amounts.

“It’s a matter of record that we’re not the best supported team around but there’s still a strong element that follows us, that’ll stand by us.

“There’s an element quick to criticise you when things go wrong, but you have your own circle of friends within your club or within the panel, they’re the guys you need to listen to, to help when you’re taking a lot of flak. I learned a long time ago that you can’t listen to what people say about you, you’ve to take it on the chin and move on.”

They’re moving on this Sunday. Mayo have concentrated minds pretty well this week.

“They’ve been in the last two All-Ireland finals and not far away from winning both,” says Hayes.

“There might be shades of ourselves back in the late noughties, trying to knock that door down. They’ll be desperate to get to the All-Ireland final again but we’re in it for the same reason – it’s the All-Ireland or bust. I didn’t come back just to compete, I came back to win for Cork – Mayo is a massive test but if we weren’t confident in our ability to recover from the Munster final and be stronger in the All-Ireland series we wouldn’t be in this.”


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