KEVIN O’Driscoll has urged any senior Cork player contemplating inter-county retirement to ‘give it one more year’.
Last Saturday’s All-Ireland SFC Round 4B qualifier loss to Donegal ended Cork’s football season, and speculation will centre around the future of the team’s elder statesmen, such as Donncha O’Connor, Alan O’Connor and Paddy Kelly, but Tadhg MacCarthaigh’s O’Driscoll believes their experience and leadership is vital to the development of this current group.
‘The younger fellas have upped the competition for places on the team and on the panel, and they have driven on the older fellas. I hope that the older fellas will stick with it now because there is the nucleus of a good team here, and we need their leadership to help the younger fellas coming through and to help gel it all together. It’s not all doom and gloom,’ O’Driscoll told The Southern Star.
‘They have a lot of time put in to this but if I was to sit down and talk to them, I’d ask them to give it one more year. They are huge leaders in this team, whether it’s starting, coming off the bench, or chatting to the younger fellas. Even on Friday, they were talking to the younger fellas on the team; that type of leadership is invaluable.’
O’Driscoll’s call for one more year was echoed by Cork boss Peadar Healy: ‘We would hope that the older players, the likes of Alan O’Connor and Daniel Goulding, would stay on, because they need to be around these young fellas when they grind their teeth, as the man says.’
Reflecting on the 0-21 to 1-15 loss to Donegal, O’Driscoll feels Cork didn’t make the most of their chances, especially in the second half.
‘For a lot of the game we were there with them and we were on top in the first half and maybe should have been further ahead at half-time. We had our fair share of the ball in the second half, but they wore us down and they took their chances while we didn’t. That’s very disappointing,’ O’Driscoll said.
‘It’s not easy to get a shot off or get a score when you have four or five guys swarming around you. Maybe we needed a little bit more composure at times,’ he added, before looking back on a disappointing year for the Cork team.
‘The loss to Tipp was a very bad result, that wasn’t the way we wanted to start off the championship. We regrouped after that, put in good performances against Limerick and Longford and we came up here (on Saturday) looking for a good performance and the result. I think we gave a good account of ourselves, Donegal are a top team and they have perfected that defensive system over the years. We came close, we had the chances to beat them and we can take positives from this. We didn’t shame ourselves.’