Cork’s first Munster quarter-final defeat in 20 years has left the county teetering just two places above the cut-off point for involvement in this summer’s All-Ireland series.
It’s a defeat and a slide down the Sam Maguire qualifying ladder that guarantees a nervous couple of weeks ahead for the Cork camp.
The county’s fourth place finish in Division 2 left them 12th overall in the league standings and looking pretty secure for a place in the 16-team All-Ireland series group stages. But the ground underneath them is now a lot shakier after Sunday’s setback.
Of those ranked below Cork in the League, 2022 Tailteann Cup winners Westmeath, one from the New York-Sligo Connacht semi-final, and one from the Clare-Limerick Munster semi-final will be involved in the All-Ireland series.
What all that means in plain speak is Cork are now the second-lowest ranked League team in the race for Sam Maguire involvement. And so if two teams ranked below them reach provincial finals – Meath in Leinster and Cavan in Ulster, for example – then Cork would be condemned to the second-tier championship.
“I don’t know where we are going from here until we see how the competitions pan out,” said Cork manager John Cleary of his team standing nervously in no man’s land until the semi-final results in Leinster and Ulster are known.
“Results mightn’t go our way and we could be playing in the Tailteann Cup. Wherever we are playing, it is five or six weeks away. It is an opportunity maybe to get back to brass tacks between now and then, have a look at what went wrong today, and hopefully try and rectify it going forward.
“You could see there it was do-or-die for Clare. They really wanted to play in the Sam Maguire. We may not be there now. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
Although fully aware that yesterday’s defeat could define their season, should they slip outside the top 16 in the coming weeks, Cleary sought to strike an upbeat tone.
“We have no choice but to get back up on the horse and see where it takes us. We are going home very disappointed, but the season isn’t over yet.”
Clare limiting Cork to one goal chance and their tying down of Mattie Taylor, Colm O’Callaghan, and Sean Powter was evidence plenty that the hosts had studied where they fell down in the March league meeting between the pair.
“I said last week that the team that loses probably learns a lot more than the team that wins. They did learn,” Cleary continued.
“Colm O’Callaghan played well here the last day. He didn’t get an inch [today]. He was held, I don’t know was it fair or not. They did their homework and that is why they are going home victorious this evening and we’re not.”
Source : Irish Examiner