WITH the spring rehearsals over, Graham Canty believes Cork can go into summer football in a positive frame of mind.
On Sunday they wound up their league schedule with silverware after disposing of Monaghan and will be content that many new players showed their potential.
“The league went very well for us. The management looked at a lot of players and everyone got their chance,” said Canty.
“It was very valuable having the league final. Now we are only a month to the championship. It is very good as well because I don’t think people realise we had a couple of lads there that didn’t play in Croke Park before. It is great to get a run out on Croke Park and experience the day for what it is.”
The emergence of Ray Carey and Michael Shields has bedded down the full-back line and enabled Canty to be released to his natural half-back domain. “You have a bit more scope out there and you can get up the pitch once or twice. It depends how the game is going sometimes. You stay there and defend for 90% of the game but then other times you can get up front and help the lads.
“The lads behind have been outstanding this year. This is Ray’s first senior league campaign and you would swear he has been there for years. He doesn’t say a whole lot in training, he just gets on with it. He puts good preparation in and does what needs to be done off the pitch.”
The continued rising graph of the Cork U-21s who contest next Monday’s All-Ireland decider further fuels Canty’s optimism. “There is a lot of work being done in Cork football. The last three or four years the U-21s have been very good with John Cleary and Tony Leahy putting in Trojan work. They are getting to finals and All-Ireland semi-finals and every year you are getting three or four very good players coming through. They are mature and it is a big bonus when you have these lads coming into your senior sides with All-Ireland medals.
“There are lads coming into our panel focused and know what it entails to play inter-county football. They are willing to give that commitment. They are ready and pressing.”
Canty is also heartened by the continued clearing of Cork’s injury crisis. “We have Kevin O’Sullivan and Michael Cussen out but we had John Miskella just back and there are great options to bring off the bench. Michael is doing light training while Kevin has the cast off but he is still another three weeks before he is back.”
Cork’s league success arrived on a weekend when three Munster teams took honours. Cork are well-versed in Kerry’s capabilities but Tipperary’s Division 3 triumph has put them into the provincial frame.
“I think people have been knocking the Munster championship for a couple of years saying that the Munster Championship isn’t a whole lot and that there is only Cork and Kerry. But Tipp showed what they are made of. They beat a very good Down side. They have been very consistent throughout the league and you have to take notice of them. Limerick are always there or thereabouts come Championship as well. I know they didn’t have the best league campaign but they are always a tough side to beat come championship.”
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