After two one-sided games in the last fortnight, Cork boss Brian Cuthbert was glad of a competitive outing in yesterday’s McGrath Cup final against Kerry.
Mind you, the Cork football manager wasn’t thrilled with his men’s sluggish start.
The Rebels were second-best in the first-half in Mallow and needed a significant improvement after the break to claim victory.
“We weren’t happy with what we did in the first-half,” admitted Cuthbert.
“We had a lot of possession in the first 10, 12 minutes but didn’t do much with it, while we weren’t putting their defence under enough pressure.
“In the second-half we squeezed them a bit better and our decision-making on the ball, our urgency, was better.
“But we wanted half-time to come. We wouldn’t be happy with that first-half — Kerry had two goal chances and Ken O’Halloran made two good saves.
“But in the second-half we controlled the game a bit better, we’d be more pleased with that. We learned a lot from the game, some fellas played well, some fellas didn’t.
“We were short players, so were Kerry, but we wanted this to be a three-game cycle and that was a huge step up.
“While it’s a trophy you don’t see anyone jumping up and down.”
Cuthbert acknowledged the switches at half-back had been crucial to Cork’s success: “Michael (Shields) did well when he came out, James (Loughrey) did quite well at centre-back and Kevin O’Driscoll had a good second-half. They controlled that part of the field for us.”
The Bishopstown clubman wasn’t as happy with the black card and advantage system yesterday, however, when asked if the new regime was clear to players.
“We’re clear about them now, anyway,” he said.
“I still think there’s a bit of bedding in to do, a couple of things could have been black cards for Kerry but they were yellows.
“I thought one of the black cards was a small bit harsh.
“It’ll probably be a good rule but there’s going to be some bedding in.
“I’m just wondering if you’re allowed to touch a player when he kicks the ball. I’m not cribbing about the referee but there were two frees given to Kerry today – you put any pressure at all on the kicker and if he doesn’t kick it over the bar it goes back for a free. I think that’s a bit over the top.
“I don’t know where the advantage or the five second was (with one incident) but any time a player is near someone who’s kicking the ball he’s going to put his hand out.
“If the referee’s going to stop the play every time that happens it’ll be very stop-start.”
Confirming Colm O’Neill, Jamie O’Sullivan, Patrick Kelly and Damien Cahalane are still on the injured list, Cuthbert added that he hopes to have all other players available for selection on his league panel.
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