Thursday 22 March 2018

Cork urged to cut out 'inexplicable' blips and deliver on potential

Mark Collins of Cork. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Mark Collins of Cork. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It's got to the stage where the reputation follows them around. Cork's Mark Collins knows what people think of the Rebel footballers, and the worst part is he can't blame them.

They can be brilliant and perhaps should have beaten Kerry, then All-Ireland champions, in last year's drawn Munster final. Just a few weeks later they went down to Kildare to end their Championship.

This year's League followed suit. Convincing winners over Mayo and hammered by Roscommon were just some of the results that made up their rollercoaster campaign that eventually ended in relegation despite racking up six points which is usually enough to ensure League status.

And Collins is at a loss as to why his side can go from looking so good to so far off the pace.

"They are unexplainable really," Collins said of some of the high-profile defeats they have endured over the last number of seasons.

"They are massive disappointments and it is how our team has been perceived, that we have these defeats in us.

"But we have put a lot of good performances together as a panel over the last few years as well. We know there is a bit of potential in us."

That potential was perhaps best demonstrated by parts of their display against Dublin where they were a match for the All-Ireland champions for long periods before Jim Gavin's men torqued off into the distance in the final quarter.

But in typical fashion, that show of defiance came just six days after a very low point when Roscommon took them for 4-25 in Pairc Ui Rinn.

"If there was one thing went wrong that day, a hundred things went wrong," Collins recalled.

"Roscommon were just unbelievable that day and we were as bad as you could possibly imagine but it kind of steadied the ship and focused us and since then there has been an awful lot of positives in our group. We have gone forward from there.

"(The performance against Dublin) was very important because it was a tough week. The pride and the guts of this group had been questioned and it just showed that this group has a bit of guts and steel.

"I know we didn't get the win that night and Dublin were probably not at their best but we produced a performance. It showed that we had a bit of spirit in the camp."

And after tweaking their approach a little over the League, designed to make them more secure in defence, Collins believes his side have the potential to do big things this summer, which starts with Sunday's trip to Semple Stadium in Thurles to face Tipperary who have the benefit of an outing against Waterford last month.

"We have new management in this year and when they came in they looked to play a bit of free-flowing football," Collins said.

"The way Roscommon turned out it might have scared us a bit and we had to go a bit more defensive but there is loads of potential in that Cork team and loads of kick-passers.

"You can play good attractive football with this Cork team and be successful with it."

Irish Independent

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