BY KIERAN McCARTHY
MARK Collins has challenged his Cork teammates to finish off the job they started last Sunday and dethrone Munster champions Kerry in the upcoming final replay on Saturday, July 18th.
The Castlehaven footballer was one of Cork’s star performers last weekend in the drawn final in Killarney, and while the Rebels’ performance was certainly encouraging, Collins acknowledges that they now need to kick on and win the replay to really send out a strong statement of intent.
‘We have been written off a lot over the years despite having some big performances in the league. This was our first big performance in the championship but we didn’t get the win so we need to build on this for Saturday week,’ Collins said.
‘We know we have it in the tank to beat Kerry in Killarney. We have been through a lot this year, we have done a lot of work and we are after growing as a group, and now we want to finish off the job.
‘It was a big performance from us but unfortunately we didn’t get the win. On Saturday week we have to do the exact same thing again, come down here with no fear and hopefully come away with a victory.’
Collins was also full of praise for his teammates, especially converted wing back Barry O’Driscoll who emerged as one of Cork’s best performers.
‘We’ll take huge positives. It was the first big test for Barry O’Driscoll at wing back and he performed unbelievably. If we can build on this we won’t be too far away in the replay,’ Collins said.
‘More than anything else we had to prove to ourselves that we are capable of doing this, of winning the big games when it counts.
‘We have been through a lot but we know we have super talent in this group. In the last few big games we have let people down, so coming down to Killarney we knew we had an unbelievable opportunity to prove a few doubters wrong – I think we did that.
‘There’s a small bit of mixed emotions alright when you consider we were a point up going into injury time and, maybe, let it slip, but we are proud of the way we played. We know we have to do it again on Saturday week.’
As positive as Sunday’s performance was at times, there’s plenty to work on still, insists Collins.
‘The ten to 15 minutes before half time is something that we need to look at and work on. We let Kerry build up a four or five-point lead and we can’t give them that room the next day. If we build on what we did (on Sunday) we won’t be too far away,’ he said.
As for heading back across the county bounds to Kerry for the replay on Saturday week, that doesn’t faze Collins.
‘It doesn’t matter where it’s on. We were really looking forward to last Sunday’s game, there was a super atmosphere around the town, and we have no fear of playing there again,’ he said.