BY KIERAN McCARTHY
NED English doesn’t bullshit in interviews.
He says what he means and what he believes.
Ahead of Saturday’s Cork SFC round 2B game against Clyda Rovers in Inchigeela (7.30pm), the O’Donovan Rossa manager spoke of his expectancy that Skibb will be much improved from their first round loss to Nemo Rangers.
Ahead of that 2-18 to 0-13 defeat in Bandon, English said Skibb were 70 per cent ready for the challenge.
In reflection, he has downgraded that, but fully believes they are in a better place ahead of Saturday’s must-win clash.
‘I’d say for Nemo we were around 60 per cent and we have definitely moved up around 15 or 20 per cent since. We’re still not where we want to be but we are an awful lot
further on,’ he said.
‘We won’t be much further on until we can get consistent practice with our Cork players. It’s a team game and it’s very hard to suddenly incorporate three players – like Ryan Price, Donal Óg Hodnett and Conor McCarthy – into the team when we don’t have them to work with and train with.
‘We will be a lot more competitive but we need to be because Clyda are very good.’
The game against Nemo, English says, was an audit. It was a chance to see Skibb in championship action under his regime for the first time and he has learned a lot from it.
The first half performance against Nemo was particularly poor from Skibb.
‘I learned that we were not fast enough, not aggressive enough, we didn’t tackle hard enough, we didn’t use the ball right, our shot selection was poor, there was so much that was not right,’ English admitted.
‘It was an audit of where they were and it showed a lot of basic flaws that we have to address. They’re small things individually but it’s a lot when you put them together.
‘We have a lot of hard training done now that we didn’t have done before the Nemo game. Fellas have come back from injury too so we’re in a better place now than before the Nemo game.’
The simple truth is that Skibb need to turn up on Saturday against Clyda because defeat will knock them out of the championship at the same stage for the second year in a row.
Skibb did beat Clyda, 1-14 to 0-11, in a SFC relegation play-off last September, a game where Donal Óg Hodnett kicked 1-5, and another big performance is needed.
‘It’s a season-defining game for both clubs,’ English said.
‘The first round is just a glorified challenge game, this second round is what matters.
‘Clyda, in a championship game, are as tough a second round as you’ll get because they are absolutely consistent and committed all the time.
‘They’re a difficult team to beat.
‘We have a big battle on our hand. We have plenty of football and we need to show on Sunday that we have battling ability. We need to have the pure hunger and determination to deal with what’s against them, and that’s down to individuals.’
Skibb are waiting to see if goalkeeper Ryan Price is fit to line out as he is struggling with a knee injury.
‘Price is a worry. He only played half a game against Bishoptown last weekend, his knee has been giving him trouble and he was limping after,’ English said.
Sean Carmody is also a slight worry but key forward Kevin Davis is back after a hamstring injury.
English is demanding a collective improvement from the Nemo performance and feels Skibb will deliver against a Clyda team he knows well from his stint in charge.