Sport Hurling

Saturday 16 December 2017

Keeping Colin Ryan quiet key to glory for Cork's Daniel Kearney

Midfielder warns Rebels to stay disciplined or face being punished

Daniel Kearney
Daniel Kearney
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

CORK midfielder Daniel Kearney couldn't understand why everyone was obsessing about the Rebels' lack of goals before the drawn All-Ireland final.

The young accountant with PricewaterhouseCooper appreciates the pennies as much as the pounds and believes the Rebels' attitude has been right so far and won't change dramatically for tomorrow's mouthwatering re-match.

"We weren't going out not to score goals, we're just trying to keep the scoreboard ticking over," he said. "You don't go out trying to get a certain amount of goals or a certain amount of points – if an opportunity opens up you go for the goal or throw over a point, whatever is natural.

"The lads inside took it on the last day and went in and maybe we could have got one or two more goals. But who knows? Clare might play a sweeper there the next day to stop that, it all depends of how the ball comes in and where it lands."

Ask Kearney if one or other side of the ledger is in red after the replay and he reckons they're both still in the black.

"We are both back to square one," he said. "We were lucky to be in the game, to get a draw, and then unlucky not to win it, so we're just delighted to have another chance to prove ourselves. I thought we didn't do ourselves justice the last day.

"In fairness to Clare they won the ball back and got a great score to draw the game and probably deserved the draw. We really had no complaints. We got the rub of the green from referees during the year with a couple of sendings-off and I think it all levels out at the end."

Several of Cork's best-known players may have underperformed the last day but not Kearney (23), who won a Fitzgibbon Cup medal with UCC in 2012 and was playing in only his ninth SFC game for the Rebels.

At just 5ft 9ins, the Sarsfields man is not the prototype of the modern monster midfielder but he has the combination of a good engine to go with the pace and skill that Jimmy Barry-Murphy has always favoured.

And the smart way he signalled to go off with cramp in the dying stages demonstrates that Clare's heroic match-leveller Domhnall O'Donovan wasn't the only one who was still using his brain in those frenetic final minutes.

"I was clearing a ball and my leg just went tight," he said. "I was covering a lot of ground because every time Clare go forward you have to track the run. They're not like Kilkenny, whose forwards take it on themselves. Clare like to pop (pass) it, so you really have to be tight on the midfielders and half-forwards coming through.

"I just said to myself that if I was one-and-one and got cramp the game could be over because they could get a goal. So I said I'd go off, because you could lose the game in a second."

Kearney also put some thought into his own goal chance in the first half.

Bounced

"I don't think I could have done anything else with it. I bounced it and it hit the top of Patrick Kelly's hurley, it was a great save," he said. "Some people were saying I should have passed it to Luke (O'Farrell) but, when you're 13 yards in, there's not much room for error there.

"If you pop the pass it could get intercepted. I wouldn't do anything different, it was just a good save."

So, with his accountant's eye, what were the most significant statistics that Cork took out of the drawn thriller?

"Probably the amount of effective tackles that our forwards need to put in, compared to theirs," he replied. "They were hitting much harder and the fouls (17) we gave away were far too high. Colin Ryan got 11 points from frees. They're easy scores when he's that good, so that's something we definitely have to cut out."

With Clare winning 17 of Cork's puck-outs, that's another area that needed work.

"The way their half-back line dominated gave them a great platform too," he accepted. "From our puck-out we (usually) go forward on the break, so that means there's a load of space in behind. That should be setting up an attack for us.

"But instead it was coming straight down back our throats and is obviously a big area for us to improve on."

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