Ronan McCarthy left with plenty grounds for concern after Cavan defeat

It hasn’t been the happiest of starts to life at the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh for the Cork footballers.

Manager Ronan McCarthy denied the possibility that it’s a thought that’ll linger on the minds of his team until their summer return as “complete and utter nonsense”.

“No, I was asked that question during the week and I don’t buy that at all,” he said.

“I think it’s complete and utter nonsense and if people want to start that, I just wouldn’t accept that. It’s a pitch. Go out and play.”

With no more league games scheduled for their new home, a Munster semi-final/Munster final/qualifier game (delete as appropriate come June) is their likely next date at the revamped venue.

As for on-field matters, McCarthy was disappointed by the players’ work rate during a first-half which ended 0-9 to 0-5 in Cavan’s favour.

“The very basic thing is you have to hunt the ball down and chase it and work and so on. You do all this preparation and match analysis, you identify things; and when they’re not executed, that’s disappointing.

“I don’t think we got any handle on their system at all in the first half. I would put that down to simple lack of work rate, tracking of men, and passing fellas off. When you’ve good players coming through unchallenged and unmarked, and drifting around the far side of your defence, you’re going to pay a price for it.

“We made a statement at half-time, making four changes in the one go. We probably worked a bit harder and won the second half but the damage was done in the first half. Even if we got something out of the game, I’d be sitting in front of you saying that first-half performance was terrible.”

Where that leaves Cork’s promotion hopes McCarthy doesn’t know. “Meath didn’t qualify with nine points last year, Kerry did qualify for a league final with eight. You don’t know, but let’s not worry about promotion for the moment. Let’s worry about winning the next game and establishing ourselves around mid-table.”

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Full match report

CORK 0-11 - CAVAN 0-14: It says something when the question that troubles Cork manager Ronan McCarthy the most is the softest one.

“Any positives from today?”

After a pause, he points to the debut of goalkeeper Anthony Casey and the fact they could’ve dragged themselves, undeservingly, into position to take a point from the game.

They never looked like or merited doing so, as he admitted, given the fact they failed to close Cavan’s four-point half-time lead, eked out against the Siberian wind, to a one-score game until injury-time.

Ronan McCarthy left with plenty grounds for concern after Cavan defeat

For McCarthy, there was a Siberian wilderness of difference between winning when playing badly, as against Louth, and losing when playing badly.

“I’m not angry. It was disappointing,” said McCarthy. “We spoke during the week, we knew it was a big game and a top-of-the-table clash, and it was a very poor performance on the back of a very poor second half against Louth in our last game.

“Whatever about angry, angry won’t get me anywhere, but it was very poor.”

Cavan were worth much more than a three-point margin of victory on a potholed pitch, turning down three second-half goal chances for points and watching the game’s only two attempts on goal blocked late on. Despite not closing out the game as convincingly as they could have, they’re unbeaten and well on course for an immediate return to Division 1 football.

Cork, by comparison, failed to break through the Cavan defence despite desperately needing a green flag. McCarthy tried to make a statement with four half-time substitutions and they edged the second half 0-6 to 0-5, but he certainly would’ve hoped to have more of the architecture of a new team bedding in before the injection of Nemo Rangers players next month.

While he dismissed the notion of it having any lasting impact on the players, it leaves Cork cold from their two Páirc Uí Chaoimh housewarmings. A few good memories to cheer the walls and decorate the minds of supporters would’ve done no harm heading into summer.

More pressing, perhaps, was the way in which Cavan sweeper Dara McVeety ran the game from his deep-lying role.

He repeatedly dodged his way through the heart of Cork’s defensive cover, and his 24th-minute point erased Cork’s final lead of the game at 0-5 each. Cavan went on to score the next five points, too, with McVeety, Ciarán Brady, and Conor Moynagh’s runs from deep punching holes for Moynagh himself, Killian Clarke, and Caoimhin O’Reilly to capitalise upon.

They pressed Casey’s kick-out and dominated the midfield for their most damaging scoring bursts. While nobody compiled a particularly impressive total (Enda Flanagan and Adrian Cole were the only two to double up from open play), Mattie McGleenan headed north happy to see 10 players share the 14 points.

“He (McVeety) is the leader of the football team. He’s just an outstanding example to his peers and he’s an outstanding example to the people of Cavan in terms of wearing his heart of his sleeve,” said McGleenan.

“It’s very important we left Cork this weekend with something and to come away with two points, we’re over the moon. I’m delighted we’re top of the table, so come and get us.”

Sean White and Mark Collins were the two to do real damage for Cork, but the Rebels went 23 minutes without a score until the 45th minute. John O’Rourke ended that drought and added a second, as did fellow sub Stephen Sherlock, but it was all in response to Cavan scores.

McVeety continued to torment with his bursts of speed, incisive passing, and two crucial dispossessions at the other end. Martin Reilly and Padraig Faulkner were others to produce impressive blockdowns when it mattered.

Flanagan, Cole, and Gearoid McKiernan all opted for points with the goal yawning and they might have paid for it when Tomas Clancy cut the deficit to three late on.

Rather than Cork pushing on, Clancy was forced into action to make a late goal-saving block from his opposite number Martin Reilly, just after Ruairi Deane did the same to deny Thomas Galligan.

Scorers for Cork:

S White, J O’Rourke, M Collins, S Sherlock (0-2 each); C O’Neill (‘45), Brian O’Driscoll, T Clancy (0-1 each).

Scorers for Cavan:

C O’Reilly (0-3, 2 frees); E Flanagan, A Cole (0-2 each); Ciaran Brady, B Magee (free), D McVeety, C Moynagh, K Clarke, G McKiernan, C Mackey (free) (0-1 each).

CORK:

A Casey; S Ryan, J O’Sullivan; M McSweeney; K Crowley, Brian O’Driscoll, T Clancy; I Maguire, C O’Hanlon; K Flahive, S White, R Deane; M Hurley, C O’Neill, M Collins.

Subs:

M Taylor for O’Driscoll (ht), K O’Driscoll for Ryan (ht), C Kiely for Crowley (ht), J O’Rourke for Hurley (ht), C Dorgan for O’Hanlon (55), S Sherlock for O’Neill (60).

CAVAN:

J Farrelly; D Phillips, P Faulkner, J McLoughlin; D McVeety; M Reilly, Ciaran Brady, E Flanagan; B Magee, K Clarke; O Kiernan, C Moynagh, N Clerkin; C O’Reilly, A Cole.

Subs:

G McKiernan for Clerkin (ht), S Murray for Moynagh (46), C Mackey for O’Reilly (48), T Galligan for Magee (60), D Brady for Cole (61), Conor Brady for Ciaran Brady (BC, 74).

Referee:

D Coldrick (Meath).

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