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'This team is at a bit of a crossroads - we've folded in the past' - Cork's comeback

Captain Paul Kerrigan on Cork’s second-half recovery against Longford yesterday.

Cork came from behind to defeat Longford yesterday.
Cork came from behind to defeat Longford yesterday.
Image: Tom Beary/INPHO

AT HALF-TIME yesterday in Longford, Cork’s football season looked like it could go up in smoke.

They trailed by four points, had endured a scoring drought for 29 minutes and the boisterous home support in Longford were thinking their team could generate another qualifier upset.

Over the past twelve months, Cork had been in similar positions at the interval against sides they were ostensibly stronger than.

Against Kildare in Thurles last July and against Tipperary in Thurles last month, Cork could not engineer a recovery and succumbed by the final whistle.

But yesterday they found a way to triumph, outscoring Longford by 2-6 to 0-2 in the second-half and ensuring the rehabilitation of their 2016 football campaign continues.

“This team is at a bit of a crossroads,” admits captain Paul Kerrigan.

“We’ve been in those positions before at half-time. Take Kildare last year, Tipp this year, a few bad league results and we’ve kind of folded in the past.

“We just knew this was going to be a tough game. We’d to find a way to win it and luckily we did. Coupled that with a bit of class that came on, it helps calm everything down, experienced heads and I think the lead was wiped out after ten minutes (of the second-half).

“We were sent an article during the week, I think it was local journalists were tipping Longford. The odds were pretty good for them.

“Even people down our own place didn’t fancy us too much. So we showed plenty character and it’s good to shove it down their throats.”

Peadar Healy and Cork fans celebrate Cork manager Peadar Healy celebrates the victory with supporters. Source: Tom Beary/INPHO

Kerrigan pinpointed the root of Cork’s problems in a listless opening period.

“The first-half of the first-half, we weren’t too bad. It was just the second-half of the first-half, we went completely flat.

“The big thing was just taking the ball into the tackle. It was quite tight out there. They were exceptional I thought in the tackle in the first-half. Very physical.

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“The ref kind of left it go, which was pretty good. We just kept on going into the tackle and when you go into the tackle with no one behind you, you’re going to turn the ball over.

“We’d 11 turnovers in the first-half, which is pretty bad, five in the tackle. Everyone had to move it early, quick. We were very laboured in the first-half, went sideways, we were a bit tentative I thought.

“And once we upped the gears, I think there was only one team in it.”

Mark Collins with Michael Quinn and Dermot Brady Cork's Mark Collins gathers the ball ahead of Longford's Michael Quinn and Dermot Brady Source: Tom Beary/INPHO

The success propels Cork into the last 12 of the All-Ireland senior football championship. They set themselves a last eight target in the wake of their shock Munster exit and hope completing these qualifier assignments can stand to them.

“Look the ultimate goal when you get out of Munster and into the qualifiers, is to get to the quarter-finals, around August with all the big teams, the provincial champions,” says Kerrigan.

“That’s our goal. We’ve one more battle ahead. Two wins on the bounce now for this team in championship. I know people will say lower opposition, you’re expected to win but like there’s plenty of teams that have come and gone and got knocked out to Longford as well.

“Championship, it’s about winning and digging it out. I remember in 2010 the year we won the All-Ireland, we went to places like Wexford, Limerick, extra time.

“They were really character building wins, they toughened you up for the bigger games ahead. We’re under no illusions, we’ll probably be underdogs going into our next game.

“It’s something to look forward to. I’d say a lot of lads will take confidence from two championship wins, especially from where we came from. We won’t get too over excited but we’re happy.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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