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'Last Saturday if we call a spade a spade, he hadn’t a hope of playing' - Lehane's Cork impact

An injury doubt during the week, the Midleton man made a key contribution.

Conor Lehane is treated by the Cork medical staff.
Conor Lehane is treated by the Cork medical staff.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

AFTER 68 MINUTES of action in Thurles yesterday, Conor Lehane limped off for Cork.

The ankle injury that had marked him down as a major doubt last week, ended up bringing the 24-year-old’s afternoon to a halt.

But by that stage Lehane had done his bit for his county.

Four points arrowed over from play – including memorable efforts in either half from either sideline – saw him maintain the high standards he had set in last month’s man-of-the-match showing against Tipperary.

“He was extremely lucky to play,” admitted Cork selector Pat Hartnett afterwards.

“Last Saturday if we call a spade a spade, he hadn’t a hope of playing and last Tuesday we really didn’t know. To play the game he played – well done.”

Conor Lehane with Austin Gleeson Conor Lehane in action for Cork against Austin Gleeson Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Hartnett was keen to pay tribute to the other key components of the Cork team that helped fashion this victory.

“So many guys played so well and a huge mention to the full-back line. I think they are the unsung heroes at times and they were outstanding.

“The way guys keep their lifting their head and it really doesn’t matter who gets the score.

“That’s the philosophy – it doesn’t matter who gets the credit. So much can be achieved if that’s the way.”

“I thought Bill Cooper’s tackle lifted the whole thing and it was a fair tackle at that. The blocking, the hooking, Damien Cahalane made a fantastic block there in the first half down on the right.

“We have to acknowledge the result and it’s great to win two games like that back to back. Lads are really doing themselves justice.”

Kieran Kingston and assistant manage Diarmuid O'Sullivan celebrates at the final whistle Diarmuid O'Sullivan and Kieran Kingston celebrate Cork's victory Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

For selector Diarmuid O’Sullivan, the greater defensive cohesion in Cork’s play is a reflection of greater trust amongst the players.

“It doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve been in this thing 18 months. A lot of these lads have been with us, we know each other a lot better, the defenders know each other a lot better.

“They’re comfortable and when you can trust the guy alongside you it makes an awful difference. The trust factor that is now in our group is huge.”

But after taking down Tipperary and Waterford, O’Sullivan bristles at suggestions Cork will be tipped to land the Munster title next month.

“I find that hard to believe to be honest. Clare are further more advanced in where they want to go. They’re a long way ahead of us in terms of their plan and their overall plan.

“We’re still building, we’re only 18 months into this. Ok, they have a new management but they still have the same group of players.

“I couldn’t see how you’d justify calling us favourites for the Munster final to be honest.”

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