Deane says 2018 meeting will have no bearing on Cork’s must-win clash
BY KIERAN McCARTHY
LAST year’s heavy Round 4 qualifier defeat was a humbling experience for Cork footballers. It’s one they’d rather forget.
Tyrone won 3-20 to 0-13 in Portlaoise to knock Cork out and lead to Ronan McCarthy lament afterwards that the footballers needed to go in a different direction.
Twelve months on, Cork and Tyrone meet again, and McCarthy has been true to his word, as the Rebels have indeed gone on a different, and far more positive, direction.
After the loss to Dublin in their Super 8s opener last Saturday, McCarthy said he hadn’t thought about last year’s meeting with Tyrone until it was mentioned in the question put to him. That was then. This is now. Cork are in different shape presently to what they were back then, he added. And he’s right: Cork are in a far better place now.
Is that enough to beat an experienced and battle-hardened Tyrone that will try to suffocate the life out of the Cork attack and hit them on the counter? We’ll see on Saturday evening, but Ruairi Deane, who started against the Ulster men last year, is paying no heed to the last meeting between the counties.
‘I was asked a similar question coming into the Kerry game, would what happened last year have an impact, and I said no. It’s the same for this game,’ the Bantry man said.
‘You can’t rest on what happened last year. If you look at what happened last season, then you are fighting a losing battle already. As we have shown so far throughout the championship we are not the same unit as we were last year. Hopefully we can show that on Saturday.’
Lose against Tyrone and Cork are out of the championship with a game to come against Roscommon on August 4th. There’s a lot on the line for the improving Rebels who pushed Dublin for long stretches before being caught by late goals. ‘We showed in patches what we are capable of but not consistently enough to get the win,’ Deane said.
‘They are a very strong side, but we still wanted to come here and get the win so we need to look at why we didn’t and see what we need to improve on to get to the stage where we can win games like this.’
No one can deny that Cork football is on an upward curve after years in the doldrums and there have been plenty of positives in this championship campaign so far. But this Cork team doesn’t want to deal with moral victories, they want to win games and their next match is their biggest, the win-or-bust battle with Tyrone.
‘I have no doubt about the potential that is in our dressing-room at the moment,’ Deane pointed out.
‘There are fellas that are in either their first or second seasons who have lifted this to a new level and it’s helped who would be considered the more senior members of the team like myself, Ian Maguire, Kevin O’Driscoll, and us older lads.
‘It’s been a different year for us so far but we didn’t win the game and we need to dust ourselves down for Tyrone. There is no feeling sorry for ourselves, we have a big game on Saturday and we need to bring it that bit more consistently.’
Tyrone had four points to spare over Roscommon and they know a win against Cork puts them into the last four. But Cork will focus on themselves. They need to minimise mistakes because Tyrone will punish them. And how Cork approach breaching Tyrone’s defensive unit will also be key. This is the game where we will see how far Cork have come.