BY KIERAN McCARTHY
PAUL Kerrigan has targeted Cork’s Munster SFC semi-final showdown against Tipperary on June 10th as the game to kick start the Rebels’ season.
The Cork captain admitted that the county’s performance in their stuttering one-point win against Waterford last Saturday night wasn’t good enough but Kerrigan believes the game will sharpen them ahead of the Páirc Uí Rinn showdown against a Tipperary side that beat them in last year’s championship.
‘It really is a big game. They’ve been saying since the start of the year that they can come down to Cork and beat us. Hopefully it won’t define our season but it can kick-start it. If we can pull that out it will give fellas a lot of confidence,’ Kerrigan said.
‘It’s kinda personal after last year. We really didn’t perform last year, we played for ten minutes and got level with them but they still won. I’m looking forward to it, it’s a big game in Páirc Uí Rinn, there should be a good atmosphere and we want to win in Cork.
‘Tipperary are a running team, they’re going to run at us right from the half-back line, they’ll probably get fellas back and run at us like they did last year. We have to be ready for that and we know we can improve. We know what’s coming.
‘We needed that game (against Waterford). If we had gone another two weeks without a game going into Tipp we would have been completely flat altogether.’
Kerrigan pointed out that Cork’s last competitive match was against Down in the league on April 2nd and he feels that’s a major reason why the rusty Rebels struggled for long stretches against Waterford – but to come away with
the win was vital.
‘It was too close for comfort, definitely. But this time last year we lost in the first round of the championship so we’ll take a win down here,’ the Nemo attacker said.
‘We have put up some bad numbers over the last few years, losing to Tipp and other teams, but we’ll take a win. This was our first game since the league, everything else were internal games, so there was bound to be a bit of rustiness.
‘We haven’t played a game against anyone since the Down game, we have only had internal games and that probably showed for a lot of this.
‘It’s easy to say now but I think we are better than what we put out there. We knew that they were going to set-up like that but we probably should have reacted a bit better, maybe played the ball around a bit more because we kept going down channels and coming back and then going down the same way instead of going around.
‘It was fairly obvious how Waterford set their stall out, we found it hard to break down and fair play to them, they stuck at the right to the very end.
‘We have a huge game at home against Tipperary now and you’d expect Páirc Uí Rinn to be nearly full after what happened last year.’