Cork boss shares his thoughts on minor decider
BY DENIS HURLEY
CORK minor football manager Bobbie O’Dwyer is looking forward to the different challenge that will materialise when his side face Galway in the All-Ireland final at Croke Park on Sunday, September 1st.
A win over Mayo at GAA headquarters on Saturday earned Cork a spot in a minor decider for the first time since 2010. While many would have expected Kerry – winners of the last five minor titles – to triumph in Sunday’s semi to set up a third clash with the Rebels in 2019, Galway prevailed on a 0-14 to 0-13 scoreline.
Having stayed up after Saturday’s victory to watch the game, Castletownbere native O’Dwyer was left impressed with Galway, with the semi-final win backing up what he had seen at close quarters in challenge matches.
‘We’ve played Galway a few times already this year, so we’d know them fairly well,’ he says.
‘Obviously, we knew how good Kerry were but Galway showed that they were just as good, I don’t think anybody should have been underestimating them.
‘It gives us a guide. Galway have a very strong defensive system, it’s no accident that it was quite low-scoring, they’re very hard to break down. Down here in Munster, you don’t get to play against such a set-up an awful lot, so it’s definitely something to which we’ll have to give a bit of thought.’
A three-week break between the semi-final and final allows for ample preparation time in theory, though the scheduling of club games means that the county panel will be limited in terms of opportunities to convene until next weekend.
‘There are a lot of club championship games this week and next,’ O’Dwyer says, ‘it’s not ideal.
‘We probably won’t get a chance to get together fully until next week, but we’ll train in between where we can. It is what it is, we’re just praying that nobody picks up any injuries between now and then!’
Cork have already secured the first victory in terms of the final as they have won the toss for choice of jerseys, with Galway fielding in their white alternative kit.
That will provide familiarity, while O’Dwyer feels that the experience of playing in Croke Park against Mayo will stand to his team for the final.
‘There’s great credit due to the lads,’ he says.
‘Playing in Croke Park was a brand-new challenge – they were a long way from home and heavily outnumbered as Mayo were playing in the senior game too.
‘Even just the sheer size of it takes getting used to, there were a number of the players that had never been to Croke Park before and the noise of it is incredible.
‘This team though have great skills in terms of dealing with what’s thrown at them and we were very pleased with the reaction.
‘Compared to the first game against Kerry, when we were down four or five starters, nearly a third of the team, the improvement has been huge. They’ve learned something from every game and put lessons into practice.
‘The Mayo game was the first time all year that we’ve had a full panel to choose from and that gives us great choices. Hopefully the lads can build on their development again for the final.’