Sunday 18 February 2018

Counihan: League final triumph set us up for failure

Colm Keys

Colm Keys

Conor Counihan's record as Cork football manager underlines how winning every game they play is their absolute priority.

No holding anything back, no half measures. Three league titles in four years franks the nature of that approach.

But looking back on last year's league final win over Dublin, Counihan now reflects that it may have been more beneficial for them to lose it.

"Strange as it may seem, it might have been," he conceded. Winning ultimately papered over little cracks that were beginning to appear and ultimately deluded them a little.

"Eight points down... that was a game we shouldn't have won and I'd be the first to put my hand up on that. You have to evaluate victories as you would defeats and sometimes we over-analyse defeats and we don't analyse the quality of the victory.

"Dublin had several opportunities to put that game away and didn't. They certainly evaluated that and to be fair they became all the stronger for it.

"There's nothing that hurts more than losing and when you lose you do tend to analyse it that bit better."

When their season did end against Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-final, Counihan still feels injuries or lack of hunger shouldn't be put forward as an excuse.

"On the day we weren't good enough -- we were without a few players but it still shouldn't be beyond you.

"People say it can't be done but that doesn't wash with me. We'd be disappointed with our performance. Whatever went wrong we'd look at it and try and improve on it but you're in a particular place at a particular time having won an All-Ireland -- maybe it does distract you a little."

Cork's league supremacy over the last two years may be diluted in the months ahead by the same injuries that derailed them last summer.

Daniel Goulding and Ciaran Sheehan will be out for another couple of months while Aidan Walsh, Donncha O'Connor and Colm O'Neill are doubts ahead of their opening game against Armagh in the Morgan Athletic Grounds on Sunday.

Irish Independent

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