Saturday 25 March 2017

Dublin would blow us away if we play like that -- O'Leary

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Job done -- let's move on. Cork weren't exactly bubbling after reaching the All-Ireland semi-final for the sixth successive year, but then they know that they will have to improve a whole lot if they are to take their ambitions into September.

"Dublin would blow us away if we gave that sort of performance in the semi-final," said wing-back Noel O'Leary, a sentiment that will have echoed all over Cork.

Still, history shows that teams often play only as well as they have to and while Cork didn't shake off Roscommon until well into the second half, there was always a feeling that once they opened up, they would prove far too powerful for the Connacht champions.

Cork went into corrective mode at half-time, replacing no fewer than three players, but manager Conor Counihan said that while they were concerned with the first-half performance, they felt things would come right.

"Our message was to lift the performance, remain composed and show more conviction," he said. "Roscommon were very tenacious, as we expected they would be. They made it hard for us for a long time but we got it right in the end."

Roscommon manager Fergal O'Donnell felt his team ran out of steam after putting in a huge effort for a long time. That was probably to be expected as they were taking on a far more seasoned outfit which is operating off greater resources.

He also accepted that Cork had greater strength in depth but, for all that, Roscommon still put themselves in an interesting position early in the second half before fading away.

"We gave away a lot of possession in the last 20 minutes," he said. "Cork got some momentum going and we found it hard to cope. We didn't make the best use of what possession we got, but then this is a young team who are new to this level."

He predicted that they would develop well over the next few years, but for now they must make do with a first Connacht title for nine years.

Cork, meanwhile, will turn their attention to the clash with Dublin on Sunday fortnight, a challenge which will be far more demanding.

"That kind of performance wouldn't be anywhere near good enough," added O'Leary.

Counihan knows that too but also realises that there's a huge amount of talent in his big squad, although quite what the best starting 15 is remains unclear.

"We're heading into a new situation against Dublin but we couldn't even think about that until we had got through today," he said.

Irish Independent

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