GAA Football

We won't go defensive against Tyrone despite Kerry defeat says Cork boss Ronan McCarthy

Ex-Antrim defender James Loughrey starts for Cork against Tyrone on Saturday after coming off the bench in the Munster final defeat to Kerry. Picture by Seamus Loughran
Neil Loughran

CORK were punished for their openness as they slid to a 17-point Munster final hammering at the hands of Kerry, but boss Ronan McCarthy insists they have no plans to go on the defensive against Tyrone.

After a bright start at Pairc Ui Chaoimh 12 days ago, the Rebels were routed as the Kingdom ran riot.

Plenty of criticism came their way in the aftermath of that defeat, which followed an impressive win over Tipperary a month earlier.

And McCarthy says that while a better balance needs to be struck if they are to overcome the Red Hands in Saturday’s round four Qualifier, setting up defensively doesn’t suit his side.

“Part of our problem was we didn’t do enough in possession [against Kerry], and they worked extremely hard to disrupt our running game coming out of defence with the ball,” said the Douglas man.

“We didn’t beat ourselves up too much about it. You have to sit down in the cold light of day and analyse it - we’ve done that. But I would say that the Tipp game, which was a great result for us in a game we weren’t expected to win, we didn’t go over the top in relation to that.

“We were quite balanced and the same thing applies in relation to the defeat against Kerry, as disappointing as it was. We’ve acknowledged the quality of the team they have and when they get away from you, it’s very hard to reel them back.

“In relation to the openness or otherwise, Cork aren’t going to set up defensively. I don’t think it’s the style that suits us best.

“So you’d look to be a bit more solid. Even in the Tipp game we’d a period of about 20 minutes where they were causing us plenty of trouble defensively but we got it together.

“I do think we’re a team that should be playing on the front foot if we can. We’re not going to go back into a blanket defence or anything like that - that’s not going to happen.”

McCarthy has made changes in a bid to tighten things up, bringing ex-Antrim defender James Loughrey and Cian Kiely coming into defence while Brian O'Driscoll replaces Aidan Walsh at midfield.

The Hurley brothers, Brian and Michael, start in the full-forward line for the Rebels, who will be without the experienced Colm O'Neill (knee) and Peter Kelleher (ankle).

Earlier in the week Mickey Harte said he was expecting a “backlash” at O’Moore Park, remarking that Cork “always feel good” against Tyrone.

Regardless, they go in as big underdogs, and McCarthy is wary of the counter-attacking threat posed by the Red Hands.

“They’re a team that is regularly involved in big games at the business end of the season so you’d be very familiar with their personnel and how they play.

“I’m expecting manic work-rate, defensive solidity, but I don’t think they get the credit for their counter-attacking ability. There’s probably no better side at it really.

“When they turn you over, the way they break in numbers and support each other up the pitch is a joy to behold at times when they move the ball quickly.

“They have real quality players, game-changers, the likes of Tiernan McCann and Peter Harte, Mattie Donnelly, they’re top players who would get into any inter-county team anywhere around the country.

“From our point of view, backlash or not, we have to try and see, from the Tipp game, the Kerry match, can we try and get a more balanced performance and see where it takes us.

“If we play well, we’ll cause lots of teams trouble - including Tyrone.”

Cork (SFC Qualifier v Tyrone): M White; J Loughrey, J O'Sullivan, K Crowley; K Flahive, S Cronin, C Kiely; I Maguire, B O'Driscoll; S White, M Collins, R Deane; L Connolly, B Hurley, M Hurley

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