Cork rediscover their growl after win in 'bear pit'
Published 20/07/2016 | 02:30
The degree to which Cork football fortunes have dipped was unwittingly summed up by Paul Kerrigan after the win over Longford in Glennon Brothers Pearse Park last Saturday.
Explaining how pleased they were, he said that team-mate James Loughrey, who played with his native Antrim up to 2012, was the only Cork player with experience of Pearse Park and had briefed them on its capacity to devour opposition.
"That place is a bear pit - if you get out of there with a win, you'll have earned it," warned Loughrey.
Now Longford have done well in the All-Ireland qualifiers over the years, quite often away from home, as in Newry and Clones this year, and are making solid progress under Denis Connerton but Pearse Park a bear pit? Hardly.
The venue has over recent seasons been home to Division 3 and 4 activity, not a habitat with which Cork are familiar.
Presumably, the defeat by Tipperary (Division 3 this year) in the Munster semi-final made Cork edgy heading for the Longford assignment, which they duly completed, much to Kerrigan's relief.
He talked of how "even people down in our own place didn't fancy us" and how it was "good to shove it down their throats".
Granted, the Cork players have come in for unacceptably nasty criticism in recent seasons, but it might be best not to retaliate until they win against better opposition in a more ferocious 'bear pit' than Pearse Park.