Ronan McCarthy: 'We can lie down and die or turn it around'
By John Harrington
Cork football manager Ronan McCarthy says the Rebels have a simple choice to make after Saturday’s crushing Munster SFC Final defeat to Kerry – lie down and die, or bounce back with a big performance in Round Four of the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
The Rebels were completely outclassed as they fell to a 3-18 to 2-4 defeat to the Kingdom, and McCarthy didn’t try to disguise his disappointment at the scale of the defeat.
“It’s a hugely disappointing result and performance from us,” said the Cork manager.
“Look, we have to put it behind us very quickly because we’ve a very quick turnaround to the next game in two weeks’ time. I’ll be honest, that’s one thing I didn’t see coming. Look, we’ll get on with it.
“People are on about three-year terms and all of that. That performance has nothing to do with three-year terms. Actually, I’m not interested in a three-year term. I’m interested in getting the max out of this season that we could get out of it.
“Let’s acknowledge the opposition, they have real quality all over the field. They’ve an outstanding manager, he’s tactically very astute.
“So we knew we’d have to play well but I felt that was in us. And we didn’t do it. that is the most disappointing thing.
“We have to turn around very quickly. We have a choice here: we can lie down and die now or we can turn around and get ready for two weeks’ time. Hopefully, we will get another opportunity later in the year.”
Recovering psychologically from such a heavy defeat will be a challenge for the Cork players between now and the fourth round of the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
They started well against Kerry, scoring two goals in the first 10 minutes, but fell away badly after that as the confidence drained visibly from their play with every turn-over and score conceded.
“To be fair to them, they’re probably a bit shell-shocked,” said McCarthy of his players. “No-one was saying that we expected to come out and win by 10 points like we did against Tipp but we felt we would be competitive. They felt that.
“I felt at half-time we could still possibly get ourselves back into the game. Kerry got a goal and a couple of points very quickly. After that, it’s damage limitation because you’re trying to chase the game trying to get back into it and you’re wide open at the back.
“I thought our big problem was, Kerry obviously didn’t want us to run the ball out, blocked up the centre very well, worked very hard to stop us and we hadn’t enough people supporting the ball carrier when we came out with the ball.
“I think we were turned over 19 times in the first half. Some of it very cheap in contact, lost the ball. That was the most disappointing element of it for me.
"I felt that our real strength is our running game, our support play. Kerry weren’t going to come out easy on all that. But we lacked support so many times. We got turned over and they were straight through.”