The learning never stops. Ian Maguire has a couple of years under his belt at senior intercounty, but the Cork football captain is still the student. Still storing the lessons.
“One of the important things for us is to learn to close out games. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing well for 50 or so minutes, you have to be able to see out a game.
“You have to have that relentlessness that other Cork teams had. No matter whether they were having a good or bad day, they were still able to dig out results.
“I think that’s something that’s been missing the last couple of years. It’s hard to put your finger on it exactly, but that’s the one thing I always remember, when I was young. Cork always hung in there and usually it was a touch of class from one of the forwards which sealed a result.
“Moral victories are no good anymore. We’ve got to start winning games and build confidence from there.” Their last-second win over Clare a couple of weeks ago in the McGrath Cup final underlines that.
“Ever since the final whistle blew in the Clare game I was absolutely hanging for the Tipp game to start. I’m buzzing for it.
“Even though the McGrath Cup is only a pre-season warm-up competition, it was great to steal a game like that.
“Winning any inter-county game is good. I’ve lost enough time with Cork. We’re all just looking forward to cracking on now in the league.
“It’s going to be a big challenge. Some lads have retired and we won’t have the Nemo lads, but it’s a big opportunity for the new players in the team.” And a big challenge. Tipperary are a formidable side and Maguire knows them well.
“I think I’ve played them more often than Kerry. I played against them in minor, when they beat us. Tipp are a good team. I know Michael Quinlivan well, having played with him in UCC. He’s top forward as is Conor Sweeney, who was in college before us. They’ve good players all over the pitch. They’re a solid team.” They’re not alone in Division 2 of the NFL, as he points out.
“It looks very even and that was the first thing that jumped out at me. I’m familiar with all the teams with the exception of Louth.
“Roscommon were only a kick of a ball from beating Mayo last year. I’d consider them the top class team in the division.
“There’s a platform in place and you just keep building. This is is a tricky time of the year for third-level colleges because you’ve the Sigerson Cup and the league at the same time.
“You could find yourself playing two games in a week and you have to be very careful. It’s all about managing things properly.”
Balance is a key word. There’s been a lot of noise recently about the demands of playing intercounty, with recently retired players vocal in their unhappiness with games and training, alcohol bans...
“I’ve seen a couple of articles and my first thought is that every player is different, when it comes to inter-county,” says the St Finbarr’s clubman.
“I can only speak for myself in this regard. I live and work in the city, so travelling to and from work isn’t an issue for me.
“My difficulty isn’t as great as others. There are challenges there, of course. There is a lot of self-control involved.
“If you are an organised person you will go a long way. The club and intercounty fixtures list has to be sorted. From my own experience last season, I think the club fixtures have to be sorted first.” And the alcohol bans?
“I’ve never been involved in a team which had an alcohol ban in place. I think a lot of it is hearsay.
“I believe it’s all to do with timing. I like a pint as much as the next fellow, but, obviously, when you’re training hard it’s a no-no, especially around championship time. And I think everyone knows that. Formal bans are crazy.
“Why would you have one in place for a club team who mightn’t play for a couple of months?
“Of course, you do miss out on things being an inter-county player, but that’s the sacrifice you make.
“I wouldn’t miss a football game for anything.”
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