‘O’Connor can contribute on field’

Cork football manager, Ronan McCarthy, has welcomed Donncha O’Connor’s decision to stay on with the Rebels, saying the Ballydesmond man can still contribute on the field of play.

Cork selector Sean Hayes and manager Ronan McCarthy. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

McGrath Cup final - Cork V Clare

Today: Mallow, 4pm

Referee: Seamus Mulvihill (Kerry)

Bet: Cork 8/15 Clare 2/1 Draw 7/1

McCarthy agreed that O’Connor was a good example to the younger players, but added that “contribution on the field is the most important thing” for a panellist.

“Yes, all those factors are important, but the most important factor is that the player has something to contribute on the field.

“There’s a danger, with a player of Donncha’s experience, that that experience, that ability to be a great mentor to the younger players, all of that, is one thing, but the starting point is what that player can contribute on the field. If we didn’t feel he could contribute, and he didn’t feel he could contribute, then we wouldn’t have him. We’re delighted to have him back, absolutely, but his contribution on the field is the most important thing.”

At the other end of the age range, Cork attacker, Sean Powter, was quoted during the week saying he believed every game was one he could win: welcome positivity from a newcomer.

“Look, it’s great to see lads being positive, and we can be as positive as we want,” says McCarthy.

“But, at the end of the day, you have to back that up. You have to back it up with two things in particular: progress and results.

“How you measure progress can be subjective, at times, but it’s fair to say there’s a good energy in the group and the attitude is good. But talk is cheap and you have to deliver results, as well.”

Getting out of Division 2 of the NFL would be a good result and a fair indicator of progress, but the Douglas clubman sounds a cautious note.

“The one thing about the national league is that because we’re in Division 2, people, maybe, at times, underestimate the difficulties involved.

“I’ve made the point, in the past, that if you’re in Division 3, then you’re playing the likes of Derry and Armagh. Those are difficult matches, and if you’re playing any team away from home . ..

“There’s this notion that you’re in Division 2 and it’s going to be straightforward. That’s all wrong. There are an awful lot of good teams in Division 2. You’re talking about teams like Tipperary and Cavan, Meath and Roscommon and Down.

“We’re away for three of those games, so any notion that Cork have some kind of divine right to be promoted to Division 1... people have to be realistic about that.

“We’ll have to take it one game at a time. Promotion is obviously something we’re hoping for, but we’ll take it step by step.”

Cork face Clare this afternoon in the McGrath Cup final, and McCarthy is deploying a blend of experience and youth in tonight’s 15, similar to how he approached last weekend’s game, versus Waterford.

“We didn’t make huge changes — we have a few lads with small niggles that we’re not going to risk, but it’s really a similar mix of established players and newer lads, not unlike what we had out against Waterford, last weekend.

“It’s all with a view to getting game time into players and giving some new lads the opportunity to show what they can do.

“It’s all been fine (but) it’s very early in the season. The attitude and the commitment that the lads have shown has been very good, which is encouraging, and we’ve been delighted with what we’ve found.

“We think there’s a lot of quality there, a lot of talent emerging, so it’s a matter, now, of harnessing that, ahead of the national league. Tonight’s part of that.”

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