Sport Gaelic Football

Tuesday 16 January 2018

Healy confident his 'resilient' Rebels can make the doubters eat their words

Cork manager banking on secret weapon Sheehan to provide inside line on Kerry

Peadar Healy leads his Cork team into Killarney tomorrow. Photo: Sportsfile
Peadar Healy leads his Cork team into Killarney tomorrow. Photo: Sportsfile

Denis Hurley

Perhaps it's the fact that hurling will always have primacy on Leeside, but the Cork football team have always seemed to attract criticism quite easily.

When they're not winning, the consensus is that they should be winning; when they are winning, they should be winning more. How Rebel fans would love to be back at the turn of the decade, when one All-Ireland title under Conor Counihan was deemed to be under-achievement.

Last year, conceding 4-25 to Roscommon in the League and then losing to Tipperary in the Championship for the first time since 1944 brought more slings and arrows, and 2017 hasn't suggested that the prevailing view needs to be altered.

Cork go to Killarney tomorrow having had a point to spare on both Waterford and Tipperary, but manager Peadar Healy has faith in his panel.

"This bunch are very resilient," he says, "they've had knock-backs, we all have, but it's all about the next game.

"They seem to get over the criticism, and what happens on the pitch is all that matters."

Cork might perhaps have a secret weapon in Killarney, as assisting Healy is coach Billy Sheehan.

A native of Tralee, the Austin Stacks man played for Kerry from 2001-03 before switching to Laois.

Healy has been involved with Dr Crokes in his coaching career and played for Valentia Young Islanders, so he has a high regard for Kerrymen.

"Billy is an exceptionally good coach," he says.

"Myself, living in Kerry, living on the border, I've been trained by Mickey Ned and Pat Spillane… we often had Kerry coaches when in Baile Bhúirne.

"A friend of mine, Seán Galvin from Caherdaniel, rang me up at quarter to three on a Monday morning after Kerry beat Dublin the National League final.

"People living along the border, the Beara people, Carbery people, Muskerry people, Duhallow, Avondhu… we'd have lots of friends in Kerry.

"Billy has a great grasp of football. His training is exceptionally good. It'd be nice for us anyway if he could help turn Kerry over."

Sheehan takes much of the Cork training sessions, with Healy in an observational brief.

"Yeah, I'd oversee it, I reffed the Reds and Whites last Saturday. Eamonn (Ryan) would do a lot of it too, and we have Eric Barrett as a goalkeeping coach," explains Healy.

"There's a lot of organising goes into it."

What kind of a referee is he?

"A lot of them say that I don't blow the whistle enough!" he laughs.

Once upon a time, Healy was the man on the sideline, piloting the session while Counihan was the manager. When the buck stops with you, the extra responsibilities are many and varied.

"There's way more media attention anyway, for a start," he says.

"You put an awful lot of trust in your backroom and your players, there's no day that five or six fellas aren't looking for you.

"Time is the big thing and it's gone to the stage where you need the summer off. You're in the business end of it now from the Munster final on and you need every spare hour that you have to focus on the next game and preparing teams."

Such efforts must feel like a waste of time when Cork only score a point in a half of football, as they did against Tipperary last time out before staging a recovery after half-time.

"Outside the bad first half that we had, in the second half we came alive," Healy says.

"You need to be putting in that kind of performance in Killarney for the full 70 minutes if we're going to get a result."

And is that achieved by outplaying Kerry or frustrating them first?

"Of course you have to look the opposition, they'll look at us and we'll look at them," he says.

"The thing is, the two teams know each other so well at this stage, through Sigerson and everything.

"I can't control anything outside of our camp, I can't pick the Kerry team so we'll just be focused totally on ourselves. Hopefully we'll put up a savage performance - and we need it if we're going to get a result."

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport