Sunday 22 September 2019

'Ye all wrote about it; we can't argue with it' - Eoin Cadogan on how Cork bounced back from Tipp woes

Cork's Alan Cadogan. Photo: Sportsfile
Cork's Alan Cadogan. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Nothing is more dangerous than a wounded animal and Cork bit back venomously to sensationally stun All-Ireland SHC champions Limerick and blow Munster open.

Branded a beaten docket after being torn apart by Tipperary the week previous, this was a different Cork as they mixed substance with style to claw and scrape their way to a comprehensive victory.

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Their guts was questioned after the abject Tipp display - and rightfully so - but they manned up all over the pitch and blew the Treaty away with a scintillating second half underpinned by ravenous work-rate.

The deluge of rain that welcomed the start of the closing half wouldn't normally be Cork's forte but snow wouldn't have halted their gallop yesterday with men possessed to gain redemption all over the pitch.

Limerick's fabled half-back line of Diarmaid Byrnes, Declan Hannon and Tom Morrissey were redundant with Daniel Kearney (0-4), Seamus Harnedy (0-4) and Luke Meade (0-2) running them ragged.

A Cork defence which was taken to the cleaners a week ago - they conceded 2-24 from play against Tipp - had rock-solid foundations everywhere you looked and held Limerick to 1-7 from play (and just 0-2 in the second period).

Aaron Gillane is one of the best attackers in the country but he was wrapped up by veteran full-back Eoin Cadogan, who was brave as a lion and embodied the change in mentality by the Leesiders.

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Stephen McDonnell's half-time introduction for the struggling Seán O'Donoghue - who got the run-around from the brilliant Graeme Mulcahy - shored things up significantly and added yet another leader to the coalface.

They were ruthless at the back with smart tactical fouling any time Limerick threatened to break their cover. There was no way they were going to go through without earning it and Cian Lynch was dragged back on two occasions before getting a chance to pull the trigger.

For Cadogan, it was all about standing up and being counted.

"What happened last week wasn't good enough from a defender's point of view. People outside of the camp spoke about it, we spoke about it inside the camp. What we conceded wasn't good enough," the 32-year-old said.

"Ye all wrote about it; we can't argue with it. We justifiably worked a lot harder, defended a lot better. When you bring that type of intensity and work-rate, you get that performance."

While there was probably some element of the hair-dryer treatment from John Meyler to gee them up as their season hung in the balance, the Cork boss insists it was more about players demanding more that produced this type of response.

"Those days are gone, the old days are gone. If you look at it yourself personally, you'll see what's required and these guys looked at themselves this week," Meyler outlined.

"We looked at the points which we needed to address. We spoke about work-rate, Cork are always a summer hurling team, it's just getting that work-rate up and we got that."

Nobody epitomised Cork's unbreakable mentality better than Patrick Horgan - who missed several frees that he would normally score in his sleep - and he never shirked responsibility.

The Glen Rovers ace was off target with a routine free at the start of the new half with the wet sliotar skewing off his stick but Paud O'Dwyer's whistle had barely blown for their next free before he was striding confidently out to midfield to take it.

That 43rd-minute free was a statement and nine minutes later he bagged a sublime goal as he angled his hurl beautifully to knock down a Bill Cooper delivery into space and split the Limerick defence before firing past Nickie Quaid.

Much has been made of Cork's lack of squad depth but their five substitutes contributed immensely with Alan Cadogan outstanding when introduced after just six minutes for Conor Lehane.

"We got criticised for our performances in the league and that's what we tried to do, we tried to strengthen the panel using the league for competitive games," Meyler remarked of their spring deficiencies.

Limerick's cloak of invincibility has been removed in no uncertain terms but they are far from finished. In fact, if last year is anything to go by, they are only getting started.

Losing at this stage - much like last year's round five defeat to Clare - offers them time to rebound but anticipation of their June 2 visit to Walsh Park to face Waterford is heightened with both playing to save their summers.

Having a game under their belt proved crucial for Cork down the stretch but with three of this year's four Munster ties won by the away side, John Kiely is confident of getting things back on track.

"I'd say the biggest thing that's hurt now at the moment is pride and that's the bottom line. We've a bit of soul-searching to do this week and we've got to knuckle down, simple as that," Kiely said.

"That dressing room is full of guys capable of grabbing this thing by the scruff of the neck and there will be a response, I have no doubt in my mind that these players will respond.

"They have worked so hard, they're so committed, they're so loyal, they're phenomenal guys. They know that they'll have to double down on what they're doing and they know that there will have to be a response. There's no hiding place from this thing."

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