Sean Og O hAilpin
Munster final draw feels like a defeat
We lost it, won it and lost it again. Sunday's Munster hurling final ended in a draw, but it feels like a defeat, writes Sean Og O hAilpin, who is almost certain to miss Saturday's replay with a hamstring injury.
My Munster final came to an end a few minutes into the second half at Semple Stadium on Sunday. I got a ball off Cathal Naughton and was coming out of a tackle and when I took a stride I just felt my hamstring going. I tried to run on it for a minute or two afterwards, I could half-jog but couldnâ€™t sprint. The best thing there is to come off. Youâ€™re no good to the team.
I missed a bit of the league with a hamstring injury earlier this year but this is a totally different injury. Down the bottom of the muscle towards the knee. Iâ€™m in for a scan at some stage today (Monday) and Iâ€™ll know more after that. Theyâ€™ll tell me what exactly the damage is, but best case scenario is that it will be 2-3 weeks out anyway, so that means thereâ€™s no chance of me playing in the replay next Saturday evening. With injuries like this, thereâ€™s not a whole lot you can do for the first 24 or 48 hours. Ice it, elevate it, rest it.
Ray Ryan came on and did very well, and Iâ€™ve no doubt heâ€™ll be well up to it next Saturday if Denis goes with him. He may not be well-known outside the county but heâ€™s with Sars, who won the county championship two years ago, and heâ€™s one of their best players, so Iâ€™ve no doubt heâ€™ll be up to the task. Best of luck to him.
As a player, you never like missing big games through injury. But I won't be sitting back this week, crying and feeling sorry for myself. I'll be down at training, geeing up the lads who will be playing. Injured players don't travel with the team so I'll be sitting in the stand next Saturday. Replays usually go to the best team and we feel like we're the best team, so we'll be confident of getting the win.
In hindsight the game against Limerick wasnâ€™t ideal preparation for a Munster final like this, and the game against Waterford will bring on our lads a tonne
Looking back at Sundayâ€™s game, we felt we lost it, we won it and we lost it again in the end. Thatâ€™s how it feels. Youâ€™re three points ahead with seconds to go, and the game looks over, so a draw will always feel like a defeat. From my angle on the sideline I found it baffling how that free at the end could be given. I think John Mullane said that one of our lads played the hurley but I donâ€™t think the Waterford player could have got to the ball in any case.
However, a lot of people were saying that Ben Oâ€™Connorâ€™s free in the first half was wide so maybe that was karma at the end. What goes around comes around. Whatever, the lads will put it behind them and prepare for next weekend.
When Denis brings them in this week the focus wonâ€™t be on what happened in the last minute. Lads wonâ€™t be thinking about how close they were to a Munster title. Theyâ€™ll be looking at the game as a whole, and apart from about 20 minutes in the second half we just didn't play. In that 20 minutes we showed what we were capable of doing. Played some unbelievable hurling. But 20 minutes is not enough. That wonâ€™t win any game.
Looking at the game as a whole, we only played in patches, so we have to up our game for longer periods. We have a lot of improvement to make but the lads will be confident that they can do that.
In hindsight maybe the game against Limerick wasnâ€™t ideal preparation for a Munster final like this, and the game against Waterford will bring on our lads a tonne. The second half will have been better than a million training sessions, and Iâ€™ve no doubt that youâ€™ll see a different Cork side next Saturday. You certainly wonâ€™t see a repeat of the first half performance, when we just let Waterford do whatever they wanted. They dictated the play. Denis was reading out a few stats at half-time. Puck-outs won, breaking ball won. Jesus, they slaughtered us - everywhere.
Itâ€™s not as if the game will just be beneficial to Cork either. The game will bring Waterford on a lot too. But weâ€™re just focusing on ourselves, on the things we can do better. And thereâ€™s a lot we can do better. There wonâ€™t be much chance to work on anything in training, though. When you play again within six days, all fellas are doing is allowing the body the time to recover properly.
Replays can be strange. I donâ€™t have a crystal ball so I havenâ€™t a clue what will happen. Sometimes after a close-fought game youâ€™ll see a lopsided replay with one side winning easily. Sometimes itâ€™s every bit as close as the first one. I donâ€™t know which way itâ€™ll go, but Cork are always confident of winning every game they play and thatâ€™ll be no different next weekend.