Monday 22 January 2018

Best team won, admits Hartnett as Rebels refuse to play the blame game

Austin Gleeson is congratulated by Cork boss Kieran Kingston. Photo: Sportsfile
Austin Gleeson is congratulated by Cork boss Kieran Kingston. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Cork selector Pat Hartnett is first into the media room under the Hogan Stand, disappointment etched on his face. Manager Kieran Kingston follows shortly after him but Hartnett has a lot of the house-keeping done at that stage.

The pair are singing from the same hymn sheet. It was a game that threw up plenty of flash points but, broadly speaking, their read on things is the same.

It's clear Cork aren't going to start pointing fingers or asking questions of the referee here. They aren't going to query whether Austin Gleeson should still have been on the field to score his wonder goal after an incident with Luke Meade's helmet in the first half or wonder aloud about Damien Cahalane's pair of yellow cards, the second of which seemed to swing the game firmly in Waterford's favour.

They are in agreement that, regardless of the circumstances, their side was bested on the day.

"First, I'd like to say the better team won on the day," Harnett began "That has to be acknowledged. For a period of time in second half we were two points up and the game got away from us so we wouldn't like to focus on the red cards per say. The better team won on the day."

Hartnett stressed he wasn't looking to make excuses when he revealed that their preparation had been far from ideal. Alan Cadogan had been sick with cellulitis. Luke Meade had a pin removed from a broken finger just the week before the game.

Despite those setbacks, Cork still managed to get themselves into a position where they were a point up when Cahalane picked up his second yellow. Harnett wasn't going to lay the blame at the door of the St Finbarr's man.

"The game was swinging to and fro (before the sending-off). And there was opportunities on both sides. I don't know the wide count but at all times the team that makes fewer mistakes tends to win. I don't know how many wides we had but at half-time not having played to our best we were still in the game. But again Waterford were justifiably the winners today.

"I saw the first (yellow card), I didn't see the second one. There's no one more disappointed but in saying that he has been phenomenal all year for us. I thought he was a genuine leader for us and these things happens. I wouldn't like to focus or comment on it really."

Kingston was similarly magnanimous in defeat and wouldn't comment on the various incidents in the game.

"I've got to look at them again and I won't comment on those until I do so," he said. "We lost Damien. There was two (red cards) at the end, I didn't see that incident at all to be honest, I don't know what happened there but that had no bearing on the game. Who knows what bearing the other one had but the swings and roundabouts, they go against you some days, the go with you other days. Today they didn't go for us and what bearing it had on the game, who knows?"

Their year was over but Kingston was keen to pay tribute to his squad of players who have made significant progress in the last 12 months.

"That Cork bunch of players have been fantastic all year," said Kingston, who signed off his press conference by offering his condolences to the Keady family on the passing of Tony.

"They've done everything we've asked them and we asked them to change a lot. We asked them at the end of last year, the start of this year, to make a lot of changes. We asked them to change a huge number of things and the culture of the way we do things.

"Without a question, every single one bought into that and they've got the whole of Cork behind them and you can see that from support we got from the games right through the year and again today. The support they got, they've created a fantastic bond… there has been a fantastic bond created between the supporters and the team and we have to acknowledge what they have done. Of course we're disappointed. We'd love to be going further, absolutely, who wouldn't?

"But I want to say how proud I am of what they've done."

Irish Independent

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