Counihan takes tricky step for Rebels in stride
It's in Conor Counihan's nature to always be wary of days like these. Small days and the perils that can go with them almost spook him as much as big days when anything goes.
Cork weren't taking any chances ahead of yesterday. They travelled up to Clare last weekend, trained and played a match amongst themselves in Cusack Park.
They even went on an expedition back to west Clare and the Cliffs of Moher to familiarise themselves with the tradition and mood of the county, availing of the opportunity to bond the squad tighter in the process.
In some ways they got what they expected yesterday. In other ways, they expected more of themselves. "We sat back and let Clare come at us and, naturally enough, they did," said Counihan.
"For the team to have the initiative and to give it away was very disappointing. Still, you have to give them credit as well.
"They weren't going to lie down, we knew that after last year. We were fortunate last year because we got three handy goals. This year we didn't get those.
"It wasn't the greatest day with the conditions and particularly with the way the Clare players got behind the ball.
"We have a lot of work still to do but the challenge for us is to become more consistent as the championship progresses."
Mick O'Dwyer was disappointed but proud. Clare had manned up big time after it appeared they might be slaughtered early on, but Cork's goal ripped the heart out of them. "Overall Clare did bloody well," he said.
"The goal made the difference. We had come right back into the game and we were going well at the time. That goal crucified us. We played well all through and gave it everything. We can't complain."
If O'Dwyer had any complaints, it was with some of the refereeing decisions. "Frees at vital stages make a big difference and there were a few of them given today.
"There was an occasion when Gary (Brennan) was being pulled and dragged and he just pushed a lad out of his way. The referee gave a free out, which was out of order in my book. That made a big difference as it was at a vital stage."
Clare will get ready now for the qualifiers. Cork? "They are a good team," said O'Dwyer. "They'll have a big say in the championship."