Cork hurling manager Pat Ryan isn’t likely to get carried away with the way things are going for Cork hurling right now after his side took down Galway in Salthill last Sunday afternoon.
n front of almost 9,000 fans, quite a few Corkonians made the trip, Ryan’s charges dominated for long periods and were well worth their win – sixth competitive win on the bounce since the start of the year.
The manager may not be getting ahead of himself just yet but he was still happy to take the result with the performance of his players even more pleasing than the outcome.
“I was delighted with everything, to be honest,” said Ryan in the bowels of Pearse Stadium.
“We’re still in pre-season, but we were delighted with the attitude shown by the lads again – that’s what we’ve been asking for.”
Of course, a manager of Ryan’s abilities and experience will always look to improve his side so the Sars’ man was also able to identify areas where his team can improve.
“There were lots of mistakes and there are lots of things to build on. In fairness to Galway, they’re a good team and they came back into it and the crowd got behind them but we hung on in the end and it was a super performance by our fellas.
“The last few minutes in particular, we made a few mistakes but we’ve had a lot of fellas playing Fitzgibbon so they might have been tiring a small bit. We’re just delighted with the attitude and the character that our lads are giving but, look, it’s early days.”
For the second weekend on the bounce, Cork put in a seriously impressive second half against one of the favoured sides in the country
“We were happy with the first half the last day, 0-10 to 0-8 at one stage, it should have been 0-10 to 0-9 on 30 minutes and then Limerick do what Limerick do, got five or six points when we tuned off and didn’t work hard enough.
“So, that was a learning for us – and we had another last five or six minutes in the second half again [against Galway], we tuned out, didn’t get our shape right and let a very good team come at us.
“Look, in fairness, Patrick [Collins] made a great save from the penalty and that gave us a bit of breathing space.”
Winning may well be a habit and momentum key to any sides success but for now what is pleasing Ryan most is the attitude and work-rate of a side that are coming under scrutiny from hurling fans all over the country.
Ryan singled out a few players who have fought to get back into the squad for special mention as he looked to pinpoint where perhaps Cork are better than before.
“The fellas that we have fantastic character, we had a lot of them at Under 20 level. I think if you look at Conor Lehane – he wasn’t at his best last week against Limerick but he tried like a dog. He scored 2-3 today and maybe left another few scores out there as well.
“Declan [Dalton] fought fierce hard today. He’s a fierce threat, he can score from anywhere, he’s a great striker of the ball. The one thing he’s doing, he’s working fierce hard for us at the moment and he’s brought that to his game. He has got himself in fantastic shape.
“Obviously, he was left off the panel last year and he has a point to prove as well. He’s got himself in good shape and ready to go.”
Another player, one of the young stars has also impressed Ryan who backed his own decision to include a player so young at full-back.
“We brought Eoin [Downey] in as a minor, he was only 17, when we were involved with the 20s – If he was eligible to play then he would have started in that championship, at 17 he was good enough to play Under 20.
“He’s learning his trade, he’s still kind of a slip of a thing, he’s trying to get a bit stronger. He wants to play, he wants to be involved, he has a great attitude.”
Ryan gets a break now for a week before welcoming Westmeath to Cork – another opportunity to see just what his squad players can do.
Westmeath are obviously not going to bring the same levels of intensity and skill as a Galway of a Limerick however Ryan will be adamant that his cork side don’t take their collective foot off the gas as they look to take momentum out of this current league campaign and into the all-important Munster Hurling Championship.