RUAIRI Deane admits watching clips of his own performance in last November’s Munster SFC final defeat against Tipperary was tough going.
That was a bad day at the office for Deane and Co, as two weeks after knocking Kerry out the Rebels failed to back it up, and slumped to a 0-17 to 0-14 loss.
The Bantry man acknowledges that their performance that day wasn’t near the standard required, but Cork have hauled themselves off the canvas, are determined to learn their lessons and bounce back in 2021.
‘Personally, I had to look at myself and there were elements of my performance that I wasn’t happy with, and I’d imagine it’s the same for the vast majority of everyone else involved,’ Deane says on this week’s Star Sport Podcast.
‘We are hoping to learn those lessons and try to bring that consistency into our performances. Was it challenging? Ya, desperate. It’s not easy to go back and watch it when you know you’re better than that.
‘I’m not saying being better on the day would have won us the game but it is disappointing to have to look at those clips of yourself and have to ask yourself some hard questions.
‘Again, it’s not personal. This is about improvement. Sport is a recreation and a joy for me so if I wake up in the morning and I’m not happy with my performance then I will try to improve it for the next day. It’s the same in life, if you have a bad day, you get up the next day and try to make it a better one.’
Deane has pinpointed an area he wants to improve in his own game this season: his scoring returns.
The Cork half forward didn’t get on the score-sheet in the Munster SFC games against Kerry and Tipperary last season, and it’s an area where the 29-year-old wants to make more of an impact.
Given his ability to break the line with his strong running, he knows he can improve his stats. At club level with Bantry – and, accepted, entirely different levels – Deane is a regular scorer and hit 2-10 in three 2020 Cork SAFC games against Kiskeam, Mallow and St Nick’s.
‘Scoring hasn’t been one of my strong points over the last few seasons so I’m going to try to get into more scoring positions or be more of a threat attacking-wise,’ he says. ‘It’s an area that I’d look at anyway as an indicator of performance at half forward. Sometimes in the modern game you get caught tracking back a bit more than you’d like and it’s difficult then to get back up into scoring positions.’
Improvement and consistency are two words that keep popping up in this chat – and it’s consistency that Cork footballers are striving for. It’s important so that manager Ronan McCarthy and coach Cian O’Neill have both committed to another two years.
‘As long as I have been involved in a Cork team since 2014 the manager and the coach have not been the same until this year, so this is a bit of continuity for us, to continue going forward,’ Deane says.
‘We have Cian who is an excellent coach, Ronan is a very good manager, and we have new additions to the backroom team like John Hayes, Bobbie O’Dwyer and Kieran Shannon. These developments will keep pushing us forward.’
Now one of the older, more experienced voices in the Cork dressing-room, Deane is excited by the new wave of talent coming through. Last season Sean Meehan, Maurice Shanley, Paul Ring, Colm O’Callaghan, Cathail O’Mahony and Damien Gore, who were all part of the Cork team that won the U20 All-Ireland in 2019, played in the championship.
‘We want to see progression every year, we want to see development, we want to see new people wearing that Cork jersey so the likes of myself struggle to win a position on the team,’ Deane explains.
‘There’s a turnover in Gaelic football ever year, I have been there a number of years now and there are groups of younger players – like those minor and U20 winning All-Ireland teams – who are coming along.’
As much as those young guns can learn from Deane, the same is true the other way.
‘These young lads are well aware of what they have to do. They can draw on some of the experience I have, if it can help them in some way. There are lots of things in their game that I can learn from as well. I’m not this complete, well-rounded athlete that looks at himself and says, “right, I’m grand.” You’re always looking to learn and pick up something new.’
- Ruairi Deane was speaking at the announcement of Sports Direct’s five-year sponsorship deal with Cork GAA. The newly-launched Cork jersey is now available exclusively through Sports Direct Ireland online until stores across the country re-open.