Maguire looking for Cork consistency
By Denis Hurley
A famous player in another code was once left to lament his side’s up-and-down form when interviewed after a good performance.
“If we played like that every week,” he said, “we wouldn’t be so inconsistent!”
It’s a sentiment that the Cork senior football team can certainly identify with. In the 2016 championship, they lost to Tipperary in Munster before building some momentum and putting it up to Donegal in the fourth round of the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers; they followed that with a Division 2 league campaign of two wins, three draws and two defeats.
Last year’s Munster championship saw a narrow win over Tipp, a comprehensive defeat to Kerry and then, out of the blue, a qualifier game in Limerick where they took Mayo – who would go on to beat Kerry – to extra time.
Now, after an 11-point win over Tipp a month ago, Ronan McCarthy’s side go into Saturday’s Munster final against Kerry in Páirc Uí Chaoimh with some momentum and captain Ian Maguire is keen to build on that.
“We always seem to follow up a good performance with a bad performance, you saw that in the league again this year,” he says.
“I think you saw when the ball was thrown in against Tipperary in the semi-final that we are a different team to last year.
“We went through a small bit of a bad patch against Tipp but we saw it out.
“I think, even though we’re young, this is a more mature group of players, and that’s what you need going into the big games.
“Ronan talks a lot about having that composure, that’s a key word. You can have all the ability in the world but unless you have that composure in the big games and in the big moments in games, you’ll be found wanting.
“You get consistency out of that, of showing composure and that gets you the results.”
Cork are the underdogs against their neighbours from the Kingdom, whom they haven’t beaten in the championship since 2012. Nevertheless, Maguire is keen that Cork concentrate on themselves rather than whoever is wearing the green and gold jersey.
“There are a lot of fearless guys in our team and we will focus on our game, not the opposition’s,” he says.
“Once the ball is throw in it doesn’t matter if it’s the Kerry team of the eighties, we don’t care, we want to perform,”
“We had this approach of soaking up pressure and seeing how we get on rather than playing on the front foot,’ he says.
“We showed that against Tipp, we played on the front foot.
“Even though there were mistakes made early on we still drove on. That comes from Ronan, he wants players to go out and play, and get on the front foot.”
In that regard, he feels they are ready to put the lessons of the Tipp game into action.
“One, we can improve because we are not the finished article by any means,” he says.
“Two, Paul Kerrigan and Brian Hurley came on, Brian coming back after a two-year injury, so that improves our options.
“We matched a big performance with a result which is the main thing. We had a lot of work done beforehand and we were happy with how we played. But there’s more to come.”