BY DENIS HURLEY
IN the wake of the three-point Munster final loss to Kerry, the Cork team received a warm ovation from their supporters as they left the field.
It was an appreciation of the tireless effort in search of a first provincial title since 2013, one that came up just short but with no disgrace attached. However, in the wake of the game, manager Ronan McCarthy was keen to avoid any talk of moral victories and it’s the same for goalkeeper Mark White.
With an All-Ireland SFC round 4 qualifier against Laois in Thurles on Saturday (5pm), he wants to ensure that lessons are learned.
‘We set out to win,’ he says, ‘we knew that we had a good chance of winning if we played to our capabilities.
‘It was disappointing to come away with a loss, especially as we had chances in front of goal. Our decision-making and our composure let us down, but there were a lot of positives to take from it and the mood has been good in the camp since.
‘We know from ourselves that, if we play well, we have the potential to match anyone. I think people are starting to see that now.
‘We just have to focus on Saturday and try to put in another good performance and hopefully come out over the line against Laois.’
White’s own performance drew praise, with good saves from Seán O’Shea and Gavin White as well as success from kickouts. He doesn’t wish to indulge in too much self-praise, though.
‘It was grand,’ he says, ‘maybe were there were one or two kickouts that went astray but, other than that, it was fine.
‘Unless the opposition drop off and you go everything short, it’s rare you’d get 100 percent but you just have to strive for perfection.’
It’s an admirable objective for one still so young. White only turned 21 in April and will begin the final year of his commerce course in UCC in the autumn, after finishing up a work placement at Ernst & Young.
It has been an accelerated journey to take the jersey which is coloured the same as his name, having been called up as a teenager by Peadar Healy two years ago.
‘It came as a shock really, it all just happened at once,’ he says.
‘I was called up two weeks before the Mayo game in 2017, it was just an introduction into the set-up and then I was brought in fully the year after with Ronan.
‘The increase in schedule was definitely tough. You’d be in college all day and then going straight to training and not home until half past nine.
‘It’s the same as what people do when they’re working so it was tough to adapt to, but it’s definitely worth it in the end when you put on the jersey.’
Pushing him for the spot are Micheál Martin of Nemo Rangers and Chris Kelly (Éire Óg). It’s a rivalry which benefits the team, he feels.
‘Everybody wants to play, there’s definitely strong competition between the three of us,’ he says.
‘I think you need that and I think that that’s healthy, we definitely push each other and get the best out of each other.’
While he was a talented outfield player, often dominating the skies for Clonakilty or Clonakilty Community College at underage levels, from here on it’s about looking after number 1.
‘I used to play outfield and then when I was 12 the U14 team had no goalkeeper,’ he says.
‘They put me in and it just sky-rocketed from there. My outfield days are over now, once I’ve passed U21 that’s it.
‘It’s always nice to have a change, but it’s impossible, once you’re used to one position, to switch to another so I’m happy to stay in goal with Clon.’
White, whose brother Seán is also part of the panel, is a son of Adrian, who won a county SHC medal with Carbery in 1994. He has won divisional JAHC medals with Clon, with his father currently managing the team.
On the footballing side, Clon got off to a good start in the county championship, beating Newcestown, though the dichotomic nature of modern GAA means that that’s on the back-burner until after Cork’s journey ends.
‘We got April off so it was good to train with them and play games,’ White says.
‘The last game was the championship about a month ago, but they train on Friday nights and we try to get down there.
‘I know it’s difficult for them, they don’t get to see much of us so it’s always good to go down and show a face.’