Coleman determined to learn from 'gut-wrenching' defeat
By John Harrington
Three days on from Sunday’s All-Ireland SHC semi-final defeat to Limerick, the pain of the loss is still very much etched on Mark Coleman’s face.
All things considered though, he’s dealing with the set-back maturely for someone who won’t turn 21 until December this year.
Because as ‘gut-wrenching’ as the loss was, he believes it can also be an invaluable learning experience for this Cork team.
“Gut-wrenching, yeah,” said Coleman. “I suppose the way we did lose after extra-time probably makes it that bit tougher.
“But at the end of the day you just have to take it on the chin. Hopefully these experiences they'll stand to us in the future.
“We've lost two All-Ireland semi-finals now in-a-row - they are invaluable experiences, you can't really buy them. We just have to learn from it and hopefully it will stand to us as we go forward.
“There was probably a few chances we missed, the few they got; at the end of the day those small things add up.
“I think we can have no regrets really. I think we tried everything we possibly could. At the end of the day we just came up short.”
Coleman is making no excuses for the manner in which Cork were outplayed by a Limerick team with a more impactful bench in extra-time on Sunday, but he does think it would be fairer for the players involved if an All-Ireland Semi-Final that was drawn after normal time went to a replay rather than extra-time.
“I suppose we knew before the game the other day that there was going to be extra-time so I think we had no excuses the last day, we can't just be giving out about that,” he said.
“Going forward, it probably is a bit fairer to go to a replay. After 70 minutes, it's tough going to go for another 20 or 25 or whatever it is.
“It is a tough way to go out of the championship. When you put so much into it it'd probably be nice to get a replay.”
Coleman counts himself as fortunate that he has an All-Ireland U-21 semi-final against Wexford on Saturday to prepare for this week because it means he can’t afford to wallow in the disappointment of Sunday’s loss to Limerick.
“Definitely, yeah, it helps refocus the mind,” he said. “ It did take a day or two to get over the defeat.
“I suppose it took a lot less now because we do have the U21 to look forward to. Just refocus, get the body right, get the head right and drive on from here now.
“It's something to look forward to. When you're so focused on the senior, it's nice to just reset and completely go towards another goal and just try and get a performance now on Saturday.”
Coleman is just one of a number of Cork senior players who will feature for their U-21 team this weekend along with the likes of Darragh Fitzgibbon, Shane Kingston, Robbie O’Flynn, and Tim O’Mahony.
Missing out on a senior All-Ireland Final for the second season in a row stings, but if this highly rated Rebels U-21 team could lift an All-Ireland title of their own this year it would suggest that Cork hurling is still very much on an upward curve.
“Yeah, I think over the last few years the teams that have won the All-Ireland U21s have pushed on and have been successful at senior,” said Coleman.
“With the Clare team who got to the All-Ireland final in '13, the two Limerick teams obviously, they've done well since.
“They're in an All-Ireland final now. The Waterford team were in an All-Ireland final last year.
“I think it just shows that a bit of success at underage -- you just kind of learn how to win and stuff -- it's definitely important that we get the best out of ourselves now with the rest of this U21 championship.
“Hopefully we can build on our performance the last day and do ourselves justice against Wexford.”
And as for the future beyond 2018, Coleman is convinced that Cork hurling is capable of building handsomely on a what are now solidly established foundations.
“Definitely,” he said. “You have to be determined to strive to be the best you can be. I think we've done that.
“We've trained hard and we're constantly trying to learn and get the most out of ourselves. There's definitely a culture there now and things are starting to look up.
“We've won two Munsters in the last two years and I think the curve is definitely rising and hopefully we can keep that going. Eventually, hopefully, we will get to the top.”