Vincent Hogan: Walsh puts 'lack of intensity' down to tiredness
Cork are about to find out more about themselves than a year of MRIs could ever tell them.
Kilkenny on Sunday week will stand as a marquee day in the hurling lives of some of the game's modern-day greats and Denis Walsh is wiser than to make predictions on what awaits us.
"It's a huge challenge, but a once-off as far as we are concerned," said the Cork manager. "Cork and Kilkenny goes back as long as the GAA is going. People will say now they know exactly how good Kilkenny are. The other question is how good are Cork? Are they below the required level? Well, we're going to find that out."
Walsh acknowledged the wrinkles in an occasionally tepid performance. "I suppose we're in an All-Ireland semi-final, exactly where we want to be," he reflected. "We knew we were going to be physically and mentally tired after two tough games against Waterford.
"It was very, very warm out there and the game was physical. Maybe we just lacked that little bit of intensity to keep pushing. Whether we're not able to do it or whether it's tiredness, we'll take a few days off and have a look at that towards the weekend.
"We probably felt under a little bit of pressure today to maybe produce good hurling. That takes its toll on me, not to mind the players. I mean, we did realise the last day that we created 40 chances against Waterford and only took 14. That was frustrating, that maybe we were being labelled as a long-ball team. We were under a little bit of pressure today to move the ball around a bit. But 'twill take anything at all the next day to get over the line. We'll be prepared for that."
Team captain Kieran 'Fraggy' Murphy concurred, suggesting "the one thing you need against Kilkenny is 20 players, playing to their max. For the last four years, teams have been trying to knock them and nobody's beaten them yet.
"We're just going to have go out and every single fella bust a gut and make sure they do everything they can for the team. That's all you can ask."
Antrim manager, Dinny Cahill, was far from downbeat after a season that brought his team into the last six of the championship. "We needed a goal to get us back into the game," said the Tipperary man. "But fair play to the players. I don't think they were afraid of any opposition throughout the year. And they proved that again today, that they can compete with the top teams.
"Seven months ago, we didn't know these players. And I think they've come a long way in seven months. The players can go back to Antrim tonight and feel proud of the way they performed. If they're in better shape next January when we meet them, I think we'll be a force."