BY JOHNNY CAROLAN
USUALLY, the question, ‘How will ye do?’ is tackled by a GAA player with a mix of expectation-lowering and platitudes.
‘We’ve trained hard and we’re hoping for a good performance but the other team aren’t half-bad, either,’ usually covers all the bases and avoids hostages to fortune. However, Cork’s Sean Powter has no fear of dressing-room wall material.
When asked what Cork’s chances are as they head to Killarney for Sunday’s Munster SFC final, the Douglas man is bullish.
‘I fully believe we’re going to beat them,’ he says.
And why? ‘We’ve beaten them all the way up, U21, and we beat them last year.
‘I just feel that, this year, we’ve bonded over the loss to Tipperary. Games like Clare and Limerick the last day, we would have lost those games two or three years ago.’
Outside of the Cork camp, little credence is given to Cork’s hopes of a first championship win in Fitzgerald Stadium since 1995. The victory in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last November has been classed by and large as a one-off freak result, ignoring the fact that Cork came within three points of their Munster rivals in 2019. Powter’s belief is such that he wouldn’t consider a win to be another ambush.
‘Well, it wouldn’t be an ambush if it’s two in a row, I suppose,’ he says.
‘Tipperary’s playing at the back of our minds as well, we have a Munster final to rectify and that’s been biting at our bit, I suppose, since November last year.’
And it’s a belief shared across Ronan McCarthy’s panel.
‘I think that the younger players have an arrogance about them,’ Powter says.
‘Since winning the U20 final, they feel, ‘Jeez, I can take on the world,’ and I feel that that has fed up to the older fellas.
‘I feel that we have a good combination of younger fellas and older fellas and experience, so there is a genuine belief that we’re going to go down to Killarney and win a Munster final.’
To get to the decider, Cork beat Limerick by eight points in the LIT Gaelic Grounds. Powter scored two points from defence and while he was forced off in the second half, it was nothing more than a dead leg.
‘Limerick set up very defensively,’ he says, ‘so they dropped off the half-back line and the full-back line and there was a lot of space for defenders to run at them.
‘It took us a while to figure that out but when we did we went at them. They did have numbers back but there were a few standing there, not really doing anything.
‘We found gaps pretty easily in the second half. There’ll be a lot more football the next day, kick-passing and stuff.
‘It’ll be a stiffer test for the defence but I feel like we’ll be up for them.’
Power has been unlucky with injuries in the past, especially a hamstring problem that ruled him out for almost all of 2018. However, coming through that made his stronger and more appreciative of the positive aspects.
‘It is extremely frustrating and extremely tough,’ he says, ‘but I think the fact I came back and got a sense of what it was like – if I was out for two or three years, I probably wouldn’t have come back at all because I’d have forgotten what it was like.
‘For days like last year against Kerry, and even the buzz of playing championship football against Limerick, there’s nothing that can replace that. That’s probably why I’m still here.’
For Cork and Powter, ‘here’ can mean a few different positions.
‘I feel like wing-back is probably my best position but I’m just happy to be on the pitch,’ he says.
‘It is a benefit [to be versatile] but it can also be a hindrance. Sometimes, I don’t know where I’m going to end up playing until the Thursday night before a match, which can be annoying, but like I said, I’m just happy to be playing rather than watching in the stand with a torn hamstring.’
Powter, currently doing a medicine post-grade in UL, could be keeping former UCC team-mate Seán O’Shea company on Sunday, but he prefers to focus on himself.
‘I wouldn’t really do too much homework,’ he says.
‘I’ve played with Seán and I know his game but I focus on myself more than anything else, visualising tackling him and sending him up the other side of the pitch, that kind of thing.
‘I wouldn’t spend hours and hours watching him kicking points.’
He’s familiar with a foe of Sunday’s opponents and, rather than that prior knowledge making him fear Kerry, it actually strengthens the conviction that there will be an away victory.
‘Killian Spillane, Tom O’Sullivan, Brian Ó Beaglaioch, I’ve played with a few of them alright,’ he says.
‘That’s another reason why I fully believe we can beat them, because I’ve played with them and there’s no difference between the fellas out here and the fellas down in Tralee or Killarney.’