BY KIERAN McCARTHY
IT wasn’t the way that Paul Kerrigan wanted to sign off in what could have been his last championship game at Fitzgerald Stadium.
With the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh to host the next three championship meetings between Cork and Kerry, the Cork captain (30) might not be around to break the Fitzgerald Stadium hoodoo – but he has vowed to do whatever it takes to get the Rebels back to winning ways.
‘I haven’t got long left, this could be my last time here, I have to try and get the most out of my last couple of years, I am extremely disappointed that I never won here. But if fellas want it we’ll give it holly for the next few weeks and months, whatever’s left,’ Kerrigan said after Sunday’s disappointing Munster final defeat.
With Cork waiting to discover their opponents in the All-Ireland SFC qualifiers, Kerrigan says it’s a must that they get back to Croke Park and into the quarter-finals.
‘We have to get back into Croke Park on the August bank holiday weekend. That’s where you have to be, that’s where all the best teams are. At the start of my career that’s where we were all the time, that’s what we want to go for,’ the Nemo man said.
‘You have to look at yourself first. Where I come from, you have to look at yourself. It’s up to yourself how far you push yourself. I haven’t too many years left, it could be the last time that I play down here, I’m eager to go again and try to get back to Croke Park. It’s tough (losing the Munster final) but again you look at yourself and how badly you want it. The door is there if you don’t want to stick around. No one is forcing anyone to be here.
‘I didn’t perform like the rest of us, I’ll try to go out and try to rectify that the next day.’
Kerrigan also admits that Kerry taught Cork a lesson last Sunday and that the Rebels need to reach the level of their neighbours to get back into contention for the game’s big honours.
‘They play at a higher intensity and a slightly higher standard and we have to get up to that,’ Kerrigan said.
‘The start in both halves killed us. The first 15 minutes told a lot in the second half, we couldn’t get out of our half and the gap went from 11 to 16 very quickly. In the same time we had a few chances for goal.
‘The gap was pretty big but it didn’t feel like it. I felt if we could get one goal we could get on a roll. But they are used to playing at a higher intensity than us and that showed.’
Missed chances didn’t help Cork’s cause either with four opportunities to goal being passed up.
‘With a team like us who needs a big win we need everything to go in,’ he said.
‘(Ian) Maguire in the first half, Tomás Clancy and myself had chances in the second half, so did Donncha (O’Connor) and Luke (Connolly), we need them all to go in, especially against one of the top two teams in the country.
‘Our scoring efficiency wasn’t where we wanted it to be at.’