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'Coming up here for a lot of us, our Cork careers were on the line a small bit'

Just how pivotal was that clash for Cork against Longford?

Cork's Mark Collins in action against the Longford defence last Saturday.
Cork's Mark Collins in action against the Longford defence last Saturday.
Image: Tom Beary/INPHO

HOW PERILOUS WAS the position that the Cork footballers found themselves in during last Saturday’s qualifier in Glennon Brothers Pearse Park?

Given their recent catalogue of disappointments, attacker Mark Collins reckons it was a game that could have had career consequences if Cork had slipped to defeat in a match where they trailed at the interval.

“We knew coming up for a lot of us, our Cork careers were on the line a small bit. We hadn’t performed in a lot of big games in the last couple of years and we really had a point to prove to ourselves.

“We had let ourselves down big time in matches against Kildare last year and Tipp this year We knew we’d have no-one up here only family and friends and we had a big chance to show a bit of bottle and thank God we got through it.

“You try and stay away from articles but you hear it and there was a good few writing us off and tipping Longford, which was probably understandable because we played so poor in a few matches over the last couple of years.

“I think in the first half there you could see we played with a small bit of fear, but thank God we showed a bit of balls and a bit of mettle and we got out of it.”

Collins did not view it as a chance to shred theories held by Cork’s critics, more an opportunity to reaffirm the ability in their squad.

“It’s not proving people wrong but proving to ourselves that we’re good enough. Deep down, we know we’ve had plenty of success at underage and at club level and colleges.

“We know we haven’t quite produced it so it’s proving it to ourselves more than anything else.”

A key factor in the game swinging in Cork’s direction in the second-half was the influence exerted by their substitutes.

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“I’m telling you, there are A versus B games in Cork and there are guys every bit as good as the 15 fellas playing,” says Collins.

“There is nobody guaranteed a place in the first 15 and they showed it. Colm (O’Neill) may have been disappointed not starting, showed his mettle.

“The same with Pa (Kelly) – he hasn’t got a lot of game-time over the last couple of years but he showed what he’s made of as well.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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