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Cork's Munster hurling response - 'It has united the group in a funny sort of way'

After losses to Limerick and Clare, Cork have recovered to reach the All-Ireland series.

The Cork players before today's game.
The Cork players before today's game.
Image: Evan Treacy/INPHO

CORK BOSS KIERAN Kingston insists he never lost faith in his players despite the poor run of form that saw them defeated in the league final and their first two championship games of the year in Munster.

Cork were on the brink of an early summer exit but a remarkable revival saw them inject hope into their challenge with last Sunday’s win in Waterford and they built on that with a resounding success over Tipperary this afternoon.

That nails down third place in Munster and a spot for the Rebels in the All-Ireland series.

“I wouldn’t have taken this job if I didn’t believe in this group of players, I’ve massive belief in this group of players, massive belief.

“And if we had lost the last two games, I would still have fierce belief in this group of players. I wouldn’t have come back into them a couple of years ago when they asked me to if I didn’t have belief in them and my belief in them has only grown.

“We’ve got out of Munster, that’s it. Our objective was to get to a Munster final, we haven’t done that. We got out of Munster and it’s no more than that, we’re certainly not going to get carried away.

“We are delighted to be in the All-Ireland series because it didn’t look like it a couple of weeks ago and the obituaries were written for the whole group, so that’s great.

“Our start was very poor. I thought the lads during that period never panicked, stuck to the gameplan, believed in what we were doing. I was really proud of them for that.

“But we’ve an awful lot to learn and a lot to do. Two games doesn’t make us a consistent team either.”

shane-kingston-signs-autograps-after-the-game Shane Kingston signs autographs after the game. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Since the setback of their loss to Clare, Kingston felt the changes to their approach and a renewed unity in their group have paved the way for them to respond.

“I suppose the League in itself, we ran from game to game and I’m not in any way making excuses but didn’t have a lot of time to tweak or change. When you got a bit of a run in the League, you’re kind of sticking with the same maybe in the way you’re doing things and your training and whatever.

“We tweaked things since then. I think the key thing is even after losing those three big games in a row, the group never panicked, the players didn’t panic. We got harsh lessons, we didn’t panic. They believed in what they were doing.

“I think it has united the group actually in a funny sort of way, I think the group, players and management, are a lot tighter than maybe they were three or four weeks ago.

“Mixing up your game plan a bit as well and you learn those lessons through defeat, if you keep winning you don’t learn those. The mix of players, 20 players, in any given game that can adapt to whatever is presented to you: a gale of wind, down to 14, having a man up and you have to have the players mix it, go long, go short, go through the lines, and we’re trying to get that balance right.”

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kieran-kingston-during-the-game Cork boss Kieran Kingston. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Kingston was conscious today of improving the county’s recent run of results when facing Tipperary.

“It’s Cork and Tipperary, we all grew up on tales of Cork playing Tipp in Munster hurling, especially up in Thurles. Massive proud county in Tipperary playing for their jersey and supporters and themselves and the team. Look back over the last 12 meetings, I think Cork have only beaten Tipp twice in championship hurling. Only once up here since 2006, which is back in ’17. Like our record against them hasn’t been fantastic in championship. We knew that coming up, this was a massive battle.”

The large Cork support in the attendance of 27,131 was acknowledged by Kingston.

“I said below in Walsh Park last Sunday that one of the players mentioned that he thought there were ten thousand Cork people there because, coming down the stretch, when we needed the Cork support, they were absolutely awesome.

“Cork people love their hurling and I suppose when you get to an All-Ireland final and league final, expectation goes up. Then you don’t deliver and criticism goes up accordingly but that’s the game we’re in and we have to deal with that as a management team and as players.

“We’re privileged to be in the position we’re in as players and management and not everyone can or would take the risk of doing what we do.

“Cork supporters are awesome but of course there was negativity out there – we would think some of it unjustified, but then again, that’s our view. You know what they say about opinions!”

About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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