BY NOEL HORGAN
COLM O’Driscoll is delighted to be going back to Croke Park for another big game with the Cork footballers on Saturday, something that didn’t look likely following the Munster semi-final defeat to Tipperary two months ago
He played in Croke Park in last year’s league semi-final victory over Donegal, and in the 2014 All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Mayo, and he describes it as an experience like no other at the top level in football.
‘It’s where everybody wants to be really, but you have got to go out and make the most of it, because guys train hard enough and put a lot of time into this thing just to get there,’ O’Driscoll said.
‘I suppose most people wrote us off after we were beaten by Tipp, and, there is no point in lying about it, we were very disappointed to bow out of the Munster championship so soon.
‘But we had two choices at that stage, we could either throw in the towel or come out fighting, and thankfully we went back to try and rebuild again.
‘We got our confidence back bit by bit, a few new guys came in and stepped up to the plate, and it’s been so far so good for us since then.
‘I think the main thing we learned from the Tipp game is that you can’t afford to have any off-days at this level, but we used the hurt as motivation for the next couple of games, and we’ll be hoping to do that again against Donegal on Saturday,’ revealed the Tadgh MacCarthaigh clubman.
O’Driscoll, a recognised wing forward with his club, and with the county team as well in the past, has been filling a corner back berth with Cork this season, and he says he’s happy enough in his new role.
‘The way the game has gone you can play anywhere, and maybe being a bit versatile gives you an advantage in terms of gaining regular inclusion on the panel,’ he said.
‘With the Cork squad as strong as it is at the moment, nobody is 100 per cent sure of a place on the team, which is a good thing.
‘The fact that the panel has been constantly changing and rotating this season helps to keep things fresh, and I think it keeps the quality up as well.’
O’Driscoll contends that Cork’s win over Longford in the previous round has worked wonders for the players’ self-belief, not least because of the way in which they turned the game around in the second half.
‘We knew that Longford were a good side, they had turned over some big teams in the past, and they played very well against us in the first half,’ the Carbery footballer said.
‘They were full value for a four-point lead at half time, but there was no panic in our dressingroom, because we knew we had enough quality to get it right in the second half.
‘The most satisfying thing was that guys threw off the shackles, showed a lot of heart and drive, and when you have fellas willing to do anything to win, I think it can carry you a long way.
‘That’s the big positive we took from the Longford game, but the further you go in the championship, the more formidable the opposition becomes, and we fully realise we have a huge task ahead of us against Donegal on Saturday.
‘They have been a top team for the last number of years, but I think we have built up a bit of steam since losing to Tipp, and we’ve certainly taken a bit of confidence from the last two games, even if we would have been expected to beat both Limerick and Longford.
‘We’re just taking it one game at a time at this stage, but you have to believe you are capable of winning every time you go out, so I’d be very hopeful we can get the job done against Donegal.