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John Cleary’s post-match speech to Cork players looked more like the start of a journey than the end of one

Paul Brennan


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Cork manager John Cleary speaks to his players after Saturday's All-Ireland SFC quarter-final loss to Dublin at Croke Park. Photo by Sportsfile

Cork manager John Cleary speaks to his players after Saturday's All-Ireland SFC quarter-final loss to Dublin at Croke Park. Photo by Sportsfile

Cork manager John Cleary speaks to his players after Saturday's All-Ireland SFC quarter-final loss to Dublin at Croke Park. Photo by Sportsfile

corkman

Perhaps the most telling takeaway from Cork’s All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Dublin didn't come during the 70-odd minutes of play, but after it. After the handshakes between the opposing players, and a gentle acknowledgement between the managers, the Dublin players trundled off down the Hogan Stand tunnel while Dessie Farrell went to do his post-match interview with Sky Sports.

Meanwhile, every Cork player, substitute and member of the back-room staff gathered into a large circle out on the pitch, tight as a drum, held together by interlinking arms around shoulders. In the middle of them stood the baseball-capped John Cleary, talking. The interim manager looked like he had a lot to say to the group. Not in any bombastic way, or with any anger or aggression. And certainly not with any defeatism or self-pity.


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