Downey says Cork won't take Antrim for granted
By John Harrington
Rob Downey insists the Cork hurlers won’t take Antrim for granted in Saturday’s All-Ireland SHC Preliminary Quarter-Final on Saturday.
The Saffrons are on a high after winning the Joe McDonagh Cup last weekend and Downey knows the confidence they’ll take from that combined with home advantage in Corrigan Park will make them very tricky opponents.
“They're a very well-balanced side,” said Downey at the launch of the All-Ireland SHC series national launch yesterday.
“Both their backs and they've some fantastic forwards. Household names like Neil McManus, Keelan Molloy, and a couple more.
“And I suppose going up there as well it will be a hostile enough environment. It's a small field and I think tickets sold out in an hour so it'll be packed out as well.
“Their confidence will be up as well because of obviously after the Joe McDonagh Cup Final and they'll bring a big support. We need to be on our game if we're to turn them over.
“We can't really look too far forward otherwise we'll slip up. To be honest, all our focus and preparation has been on Antrim, we just hope we can get over the line.
“We'll have our work cut out for us and if you even only look at the Westmeath-Wexford match recently, you wouldn't have expected Westmeath to draw with Wexford. So, yeah, we need to be on our game big-time to avoid a slip-up.”
The character as well as ability of this Cork team was questioned after they were well-beaten in the Allianz Hurling League Final by Waterford and then started their Munster SHC campaign with back to back defeats to Limerick and Clare.
Downey says the players were able to shut out that outside commentary and never lost faith in their own ability to have a say in this year’s Championship.
“To be honest with you, whatever was being said about our character or whatever, we didn’t take too much notice of it.
“We didn’t take any notice of it to be honest with you. We knew inside that we have a good group, and if we trusted each other and stayed tight, stuck to our process and stayed positive, we’d be able to turn Waterford over, and thankfully we did.
“For us, we felt we were doing good things in games but we just probably weren't coming together for the 70 minutes. Our backs were to the wall against Waterford and we could maybe play with a bit more abandon while sticking to the game-plan and process too.
“Thankfully it just came together for us on the day and that gave us a bit of confidence. Going on to the Tipp game then it was more or less the same thing. Luckily enough we came third in Munster and here we are now.”