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Dublin: -2°C Sunday 11 April 2021

Donncha O'Connor: we know what to expect from Dubs

Rebels visit Croke Park for much-anticipated league decider on Sunday. We met the Cork forward for a chat.

Specialist subject: Cork's Donncha O'Connor and Dublin's Bryan Cullen will meet again on Sunday.
Specialist subject: Cork's Donncha O'Connor and Dublin's Bryan Cullen will meet again on Sunday.
Image: INPHO/James Crombie

CORK SHARP-SHOOTER Donncha O’Connor says league final opponents Dublin are more than a one-man team.

The Rebels are preparing for a Allianz Football League Division 1 decider with Pat Gilroy’s in-form side at Croke Park this Sunday; and O’Connor says Cork are ready for much more than Footballer of the Year, Bernard Brogan.

“The main thing we took from the last time we played Dublin was trying to figure out where their goals had come from,” he said at Croke Park yesterday.

“We haven’t really looked at what Dublin have been leaking at their end. You have to look at what you’re leaking yourself first.

“They’ve  improved in the scoring stakes outside of Bernard Brogan. They’re not just dependent on him and a lot of other players are stepping up to the mark and getting their scores now.”

That ‘last time we played’ he referred to, of course, was in a league clash at Croke Park – the night Jedward took centre stage. The counties also clashed in a thrilling All-Ireland semi-final last season.

The Rebels ultimately edged through, thanks in no small part to O’Connor’s kicking.

“We started to get into the [February league] game a bit in the second half but we leaked a goal with about 10 minutes to go and that was game over,” remembers O’Connor.

Lesson learnt

“We kind of got a bit of beating,” he continues, “That game taught us a lesson, and we started to concentrate on not leaking goals which we did three times that night.

“We felt that three goals was a bit much to be giving away. In some games you will give away goals but we felt that we let in one or two sloppy goals. We’ve worked on that, trying to rectify it in training. We’ve been concentrating on that a lot really.

“A lot of people say that defeat is a good way to learn rather than winning – we’ve learned from a lot of the defeats that we’ve had. If you don’t really want to win a match, you won’t win a match.

And if the Croker crowd are treated to a dramatic game like that in the penultimate stage of last season’s All-Ireland, they’ll have gotten their money’s worth – even if ticket prices have jumped after the Spring Series drive.

“Last year was an exciting game alright,” says the Corkman, “It was up and down really for most of the match. Dublin were going well half-way through the second half but we started getting into the game and as the game wore on, we got better and better.

“If we had a game like that with the same result, I’d take it again.

“I suppose it did give us a huge boost to come back from three or four points down midway through the second half. It wasn’t just that game, we’d put in a lot of hard work before that – not just that year but in the years before that.

The Rebels go into the game somewhat understrength after a bruising campaign. O’Connor expects to line out without several big-name Leesiders.

“Aidan Walsh and Eoin Cadogan are definitely out and I think Ciaran Sheehan is doubtful at the moment, I’m not too sure what way he is.

“As for Paul [Kerrigan], I don’t think it’s anything too serious but I think Sunday might just be a game too soon for him. We’ll just have to wait and see really,” he adds.

- additional reporting Niall Kelly

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