'We are rebuilding, we have to restart and refocus,’ Cork boss Ricken says after McGrath Cup final loss

January 22nd, 2022 7:56 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Cork's Rory Maguire and Gavin White of Kerry contest this ball in the recent McGrath Cup final between the two counties.

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Cork 0-11

Kerry 2-17


AFTER suffering his first defeat as Cork senior football manager, Keith Ricken reiterated that this is a long-term project.

The inexperienced Rebels were outgunned by a stacked Kerry team in Saturday’s McGrath Cup final at Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney, but for Ricken it was another step in his team’s development.

Despite a promising start, and Cork only trailed 1-5 to 0-5 after 24 minutes, first-half goals from Tom O’Sullivan and Paul Geaney helped Kerry forge 2-9 to 0-5 ahead at half time. The home side was never troubled after the break and even had the luxury of introducing David Clifford off the bench, while Cork goalkeeper Michéal Martin also produced a number of impressive saves to keep the Kerry score down. 


‘It’s comparing apples and oranges in one sense because we are on a different trajectory at the moment. We are rebuilding, we have to restart and refocus,’ Cork boss Ricken said.

‘I am in the patient game. I have to be a patient man. If that (Kerry) team was named going out in an All-Ireland final, that’s what you would be expecting. Most of those Kerry guys have played in an All-Ireland final so you are looking at a different plateau. I was glad to come here and get that experience; if you make a mistake against opposition of that level then you will be punished and it’s good for our lads to see that.

‘It’s also good that the lads will know that they can stay in the game, they know that they can create scoring opportunities. We could have conceded another three goals but we didn’t, we could have scored a few goals but we didn't so there is stuff that we have to work on. Ours is a long-term project, you take the learnings from everyday that you go out but our job is also to fix as we go.’

Cork found themselves 1-1 to 0-0 down inside four minutes, Tom O’Sullivan with the Kerry goal as Jack O’Connor’s men raced out of the traps. Cork soon settled as the sides shared the next eight points, with the lively Mark Cronin, the dangerous Brian Hurley (2) and impressive wingback Rory Maguire all on target. When Hurley fired another effort over, the gap was down to three, 1-5 to 0-5, after 24 minutes. That was as close as Cork got.

The loss of Kevin O’Donovan to a black card didn’t help Cork as Kerry moved up a gear and fired off an unanswered 1-4 before the break to stretch 2-9 to 0-5 ahead.

After Rory Maguire added his second point early in the second half, another Kerry purple patch put this game beyond doubt as they reeled off six unanswered points. Cork, though outplayed, didn’t drop the heads and did hit the last three scores of the game – Mark Cronin, sub Daniel Dineen and Brian Hurley. 

Much more will be needed when the Division 2 football league throws in next weekend, with a tough Roscommon trip first up for Ricken’s Rebels. 


Scorers - Cork: Brian Hurley 0-5 (2f); Mark Cronin 0-3 (1f); Rory Maguire 0-2; Daniel Dineen 0-1. Kerry: Paul Geaney 1-4; Tom O’Sullivan 1-0; Tony Brosnan 0-3 (3f); Killian Spillane, Sean O’Shea (2f), Paudie Clifford, Jack Savage, David Clifford 0-2 each.

Cork: Mícheál Aodh Martin (Nemo Rangers); Sean Powter (Douglas), Kieran Histon (Nemo Rangers), Tadhg Corkery (Cill na Martra); Rory Maguire (Castlehaven), John Cooper (Éire Óg), Matthew Taylor (Mallow); Cian Kiely (Ballincollig), Joe Grimes (Clonakilty); Kevin O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers), Blake Murphy (St Vincent’s), Colm O’Callaghan (Éire Óg); Mark Cronin (Nemo Rangers), Brian Hurley (Castlehaven), Chris Óg Jones (Iveleary). Subs: Damien Gore (Kilmacabea) for B Murphy (33), Luke Connolly (Nemo Rangers) for Gore (ht, inj), David Buckley (Newcestown) for K O’Donovan (ht), Daniel Dineen (Cill na Martra) for Óg Jones (46), Daniel O’Connell (Kanturk) for Kiely (46), Kevin Flahive (Douglas) for Histon (50), Shane Merritt (Mallow) for Grimes (52), Kevin Crowley (Millstreet) for Cooper (53), Paudie Allen (Newmarket) for T Corkery (55), Paul Ring (Aghabullogue) for Powter (62).

Kerry: Shane Murphy; Dan O’Donoghue, Jason Foley, Tom O’Sullivan; Paul Murphy, Tadhg Morley, Gavin White; Sean O’Shea, Adrian Spillane; Micheál Burns, Paudie Clifford, Stephen O’Brien; Tony Brosnan, Paul Geaney, Killian Spillane. Subs: Jack Savage for S O’Brien (5, inj), Brian Ó Beaglaioch for D O’Donoghue (ht), G Crowley for P Murphy (ht), Greg Horan for A Spillane (45), David Clifford for T Brosnan (45), Graham O’Sullivan for G White (50), Paul O’Shea for P Clifford (55), Dylan Casey for S O’Shea, Cian Gammell for T O’Sullivan (60), Dara Roche for K Spillane (60).

Referee: Niall Quinn (Clare).


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