Finishing failings return but Gilroy still sees 'plus points'
DUBLIN may have surrendered an eight-point lead yesterday but it won't have the slightest negative impact on their psychological well-being in this year's championship, according to manager Pat Gilroy.
He knows that questions will be asked about the squad's capacity to close out games they seem destined to win, but it goes with the territory and he has no intention of dwelling on an issue which he regards as utterly irrelevant.
"This team has more character and more guts to put up with the sort of stuff that surrounds them every day and they still get back out there and train and work. They're the most honest guys you'll find. They'll get stick for this but we'll deal with that because it's our job," he said.
Locating the reason for the turnaround inevitably led back to Cork's experience of surviving close calls. They weren't always good at it, but finally got it right last year, beating Dublin and Down by a point each in the All-Ireland semi-final and final and have continued it into the new season.
"The experience gained over the years told a small bit today. We kept plugging away after Dublin got their second goal and started winning a bit more breaking ball around the middle of the field," said wing-back Noel O'Leary.
Man of the match Patrick Kelly also spoke of the importance of retaining composure after falling so far behind, but acknowledged that there was still huge room for improvement.
"The momentum swung our way as the second half progressed. It's great for confidence to come back and win a game like that," he said.
Cork manager Conor Counihan was delighted with the resolve displayed in the second half but pointed out that they would have to examine how they found themselves in such a predicament in the first place.
"We couldn't afford to give an eight-point lead on another day. You don't get away with that very often. We have a lot to work on, but it was good to see how we stood up as a team and a panel to grind out a good result," he said.
It was all very frustrating for Dublin who, for the second time in eight months, had lost to Cork by a point.
Gilroy felt that losing three forwards to injury in the second half had a huge bearing on the game, as had some missed chances.
"We were eight points up early in the second half but it could have been 14. Our finishing could have been so much better," he said.
He also acknowledged that Cork's squad were that bit stronger than Dublin's overall but, on the plus side, he is hoping that quite a few players who were absent from yesterday's decider due to suspension and injury will be available for the championship.
"We have things to rectify but we have time to do it. It's disappointing to lose in the manner we did but there are plus points we can take from the first 40 minutes in particular," he said.