BY DENIS HURLEY
THE easy parallel to draw ahead of Saturday’s Munster final is last year’s edition in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Then, Cork came in after an encouraging semi-final win over Tipperary and sought a performance against Kerry but what ensued was a 17-point defeat. All Cork footballing stakeholders will hope that what happens this time is a lot different, but Ruairí Deane is keen to make the point that 2018 isn’t a millstone around the team’s necks.
‘No, we can’t let that come into it,’ he says.
‘If you are worried about the past, you are already fighting a losing battle. We can control what is coming up. We cannot control what has gone before.
‘We’ll let this year’s Munster final be the tell-tale of it.’
Cork haven’t claimed the provincial title since 2012 and there have been some dark days in the interim. As a Bantry native working in Castletownbere at Beara Community School, Deane is bang in the middle of the county’s footballing heartlands.
Does that make it harder when there is being criticism levelled at the team?
‘It is tough at times,’ he says.
‘You can’t take any of it personally. The staff and kids are very good below, they understand what you put in. For the most part, they are very respectful of that. You’d have a bit of slagging here and there from the kids, but it is all in good nature. We are very lucky where I work. Most of them mean the best 99 percent of the time. There is no ill-nature with regard to the other one percent.’
At the risk of creating a hostage to fortune, Cork do come into Saturday night’s game with good form behind them, having beaten Limerick by 21 points and put in strong showings on the challenge game circuit.
That’s not something Deane is putting too much store in, though.
‘It means nothing going into this game because you are only as good as your last game,’ he says.
‘It is important to be winning matches and be creating a good atmosphere. You saw there was four debutants the last day, for them it is invaluable. For us, we need to be playing teams at the highest level and competing.’
At the same time, the sense of occasion is something that the players have to leave at the door.
‘They are things you can think about when the game is over,’ Deane says.
‘We’ve got to just focus on our process, stick to our training, they are the important things, we can talk about good football when we retire.
‘It is important to distance yourself from that, it can be quite draining. It is important that we stick to what we have been doing all along and coming up to Limerick game, I don’t think anyone would have asked us that question, so I think it is going to be the same for thus one.’
Deane hasn’t watched much of the rest of the football championship.
‘Not really,’ he says, ‘I’ve seen bits and pieces. Full games, not so much.
‘When you are training so much, you want to wind down as opposed to be sat down looking at more football on the television.’
Therefore, it’s not surprising that he didn’t see Kerry against Clare in their semi-final, but it’s not as if he doesn’t know what awaits.
‘It’s Kerry in a Munster final,’ he says.
‘Cork and Kerry have a proud tradition of playing one another in Munster. It is where we want to be in June. I didn’t see the Kerry semi-final, so we are really only focusing on ourselves in the build-up.’