For any management team to have a chance of success, they need their players to fully believe in what they are doing and it’s clear that Fermoy’s Tomás Clancy is fully on board with what Ronan McCarthy et al are trying to achieve, as they face into Saturday evening’s Munster final against their long-time rivals from the other side of the Paps.
For Clancy, it’s all about trying to get the right formula to ensure consistency of performance.
“We’ve really been looking at ourselves [this year] and going out and playing to the best of our abilities. We know the talent is there. I mean, I know there have been occasions when we haven’t put in a performance, but at the end of the day the only thing we can control is ourselves and the way we play, so like, if we can get some consistency there, we think it’ll add to us and it’s something that we have been missing.
With this in mind, it’s clear that he isn’t going to get too carried away with the impressive victory against Tipperary last time out, yet he did enjoy the win, but, as you’d expect, it was the performance that gave him most satisfaction. The dominant emotion afterwards?
“Enjoyment. We really came off the field and we’d put in a performance and I think, the result looked after itself, but we were just overwhelmed by being happy with the performance and putting it in. It’s not winning a game where you’re going in as underdogs or anything against a high-profile team, like when we lost to Mayo and Donegal.
Cork have been the epitome of Jekyll and Hyde over the past few years, mixing hints of the sublime with generous helpings of the ridiculous. It can be frustrating to watch, but surely nobody is more frustrated than the players themselves?
“Oh yeah, if we don’t put in performances we look at ourselves and we get frustrated and we get annoyed, which is all standard stuff for most teams. We’ve found that we do really have to look at ourselves and when we do get ourselves right and we are fully focused on ourselves we can put in performances, so it’s just about being consistent with that and getting that process right.”
That mantra of looking within also applies to his thoughts on Kerry.
“I only saw the result [against Clare] and to score 16 points in two halves, 32 points in total, is a serious achievement, but I didn’t really look at the game too much, to be honest. They’re a Division 1 team, we’re a Division 2 team and I know they had seven debutants, alright, but at the end of the day we’re not looking at them too much, we’re just looking at ourselves and trying to get that right.”
It’s clear that this current Cork panel are very process-driven, that they don’t get too high when things go their way or too low when they don’t work out. They’re striving for stability as much as consistency. Clancy credits the arrival of new blood and the consistency of the message from the sideline with bringing about a change in the mindset.
“I think lads are just after feeding off that. The Nemo lads came in after reaching the All-Ireland with the club and there’s a great buzz around the place and great confidence and energy and they’re things that we probably needed, just to back ourselves a bit more.”
Clancy’s off-field demeanour is somewhat at odds with his on-field persona. Talking about the game, he’s thoughtful and relaxed, while on the pitch he’s an all-action attacking wing-back with an eye for a score and football isn’t a chore for him.
“I hear a load of people going on about sacrifices, but at the end of the day you’ve the choice to be there or not. I don’t think anyone [here] sees it as a sacrifice, everyone enjoys it. They enjoy the challenge, they enjoy competing, they enjoy playing at the best level and pushing themselves. I enjoy going out and competing with other lads and just trying to get the most out of each other and being the best, you can be.”
CORK (SFC v Kerry):
M White (Clonakilty); S Ryan (St Finbarr’s), J O’Sullivan (Bishopstown), K Flahive (Douglas); K Crowley (Millstreet), S Cronin (Nemo Rangers), T Clancy (Fermoy); A Walsh (Kanturk), I Maguire (St Finbarr’s); K O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh), S White (Clonakilty), R Deane (Bantry Blues); J O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), M Collins (Castlehaven), L Connolly (Nemo Rangers). Subs: R Price (O’Donovan Rossa), J Loughrey (Mallow), M Taylor (Mallow), C Kiely (Ballincollig), B O’Driscoll (Tadhg Mac Cárthaigh), R O’Toole (Éire Óg), P Kelleher (Kilmichael), P Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers), M Hurley (Castlehaven), B Hurley (Castlehaven), C O’Neill (Ballyclough).
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