Monday 23 April 2018

Home rule the key for Cork says Colm O'Neill

Colm O'Neill, Cork
Colm O'Neill, Cork
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

With over 3,300 kilometres of travel to four different venues in the most northerly province over the next few weeks, the value of home rule is not lost on anyone in Cork football.

League games in Castleblayney, Ballyshannon, Derry and Omagh represents arguably the toughest schedule on the road for any team.

So Sunday's stirring victory over league champions Dublin, preserving a 26-year unbeaten record against them on Leeside, was the perfect tonic for a group that has been hit with quite a few body blows over the last nine months, from the league semi-final loss to Dublin last April to the crushing Munster final defeat to Kerry, the departure of two players to the hurling squad and the defeat last month to Waterford in a McGrath Cup semi-final.

Winning their first game at home was something Colm O'Neill felt they were perfectly entitled to target given their league record at either Pairc Ui Rinn or Pairc Ui Chaoimh over the last six years.

In 20 matches between 2009 and 2014 they had lost just four and drawn once (to Tyrone). Victory over Dublin has enhanced that record.

"Every team will concentrate on home games," said O'Neill, scorer of five points (four frees). "In fairness we have a very good record here in Pairc Uí Rinn and we wanted to keep that going. Once you get off to a win there is a small bit of pressure off you."

It didn't matter to O'Neill that Dublin were short 10 of their last starting championship team.

"There is no such thing as a weak Dublin team. It's known all over the country that they have a really strong panel," he said.

"We probably targeted this game for the last few weeks. It is really important to win your home games."

O'Neill shared his manager Brian Cuthbert's view that the Waterford defeat was now in the rear-view mirror.

"Definitely it flushes that out of the system. It is history now," he stated.

O'Neill has bemoaned the loss of Aidan Walsh and Damien Cahalane to the hurlers but feels the certainty about that situation will help both squads.

"Aidan and Damien are a huge loss to us but we knew about it early enough and it was put to bed," he said.

"Last year it was different. When we lost people were blaming the boys and when we won they were still on about how it can be done, so it's put to bed now.

"It's something we've known for a long time and there are three or four lads putting up their hands for positions there."

Irish Independent

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