Cork footballer’s late, late win on Sunday against Mayo was a good morale boost for the men in red and white, but goalkeeper Ken O’Halloran says the Rebels are realistic about their promising spring.
O’Halloran points out that those games “could have gone the other way quite easily” and Cork aren’t getting carried away.
“Four of our games — Mayo, Monaghan, Dublin and Tyrone — have all gone to the last five or six minutes before being decided,” says the Cork ‘keeper.
“In the camp we’d have never doubted the spirit we have, but that’s obviously encouraging to have those wins. We have a lot of young players emerging, which is also encouraging, but nobody’s getting carried away by a few wins in the league. Some of those games we won could have gone the other way quite easily, and then we’d have to be looking at ourselves, analysing them as losses rather than patting ourselves on the back.”
Mayo certainly would feel entitled to something from Sunday’s game; they were leading on 70 minutes, after all.
“We missed a couple of frees and that might have dented our confidence a little bit,” said O’Halloran.
“They came at us hard and they got some nice points. But I think we responded well. We might have left ourselves a little open at times but we also got a very good goal to win it.”
O’Halloran was encouraged by the performances of some of the younger Cork players.
“The blend is good, we have youth and experience, and the likes of Brian Hurley and Conor Dorman did well, Tom Clancy and Brian O’Driscoll, they were all to the fore driving us on towards the end. If we’re to win anything this year then those are the players who need to become big leaders for us.”
The goalkeeper was keen to share the credit for the clean sheet, pointing to the work of the defence as a whole.
“No-one likes conceding goals, you go out as a backline to make sure you keep a clean sheet.
“I’d be happy with my own performance but at the same time I wasn’t tested too much, the full-back line in particular did a great job of covering off and protecting the goal.
“We’d have a good understanding — I’d have played minor and U21 with the likes of Michael Shields and Eoin Cadogan, I’d know Conor Dorman and Jamie O’Sullivan from the club, so as a unit we know each other well.
“There were a good few players who left last year, so it’s taken a while for that on-field understanding to build up, but at the same time you have to recognise it’s only March. There are no All-Irelands won at this time of year.”
He’s well placed to compare Cork’s disappointing summer in 2014 with the promise of a good league run the same season — and how lessons have been learned from last year.
“Every bit of experience you get helps, the panel was pretty new last year and we probably had things come too easily to us in last year’s league. We’ve had a couple of good wins this year but there’s a lot of shadow-boxing going on at this time of year. The results are relevant to a certain extent, but the summer is a different kettle of fish.
“We’ll have to crank it up 30 or 40% to do well in the championship.”
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