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Pat Spillane: 'Cork had a mental breakdown' in heavy defeat to Kerry in Munster football final

Updated: Tuesday, 08 Jul 2014 12:13 | Comments

Cork fell way below expectations in their defeat to Kerry
Cork fell way below expectations in their defeat to Kerry

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In trying to comprehend Cork's collapse against Kerry in the Munster final, RTÉ analyst Pat Spillane believes that the warning signs for such a no-show were there during the Allianz League. 

The Kingdom had it all too easy in winning 0-24 to 0-12 at Páirc Ui Chaoimh. "Shambolic", "spineless" and "pathetic" have been some of the words used to describe the effort put up by the Rebels.

Spillane stayed clear of using such words in assessing the meek resistance from Brian Cuthbert's outfit, preferring instead to look back at some of their games in the spring campaign when speaking to RTÉ Sport.

Cork were table-toppers in Division 1 and, according to Spillane, "played lovely football during the league."

"Everybody was praising the new style of football that Brian Cuthbert had introduced. Like, Eamonn Fitzmaurice, he had taken over a team that was in transition after a number of ‘big leaders’ had retired.   

"Against Kerry on Sunday, they had a mental breakdown.The frightening thing was that they threw in the towel far too easily.

"As a manager, all you ask of players is to give their all. They come off the field and they have nothing else to give – they died for the cause.

"You could not as a Cork manager say that about your players against Kerry. They gave up at an early stage." 

Referencing the two games that Cork played in the league against Mayo and Dublin, Spillane feels the warning signs were there.

"When Cork played Mayo in the league, they disappeared for long spells. Composure and concentration went. At one point in the first half, Cork were five points up.

"Half-way through the second half, they were 13 points in arrears. Against Dublin in the league semi-final they collapsed in the last 25 minutes.

"On Sunday they started well against Kerry, scoring the first couple of points in the first two minutes. 28 minutes later, Cork were ten points behind.

"That’s a team that has switched off mentally and physically.

"It was like the old days when Cork's build-up play was slow, hesitant and ponderous. Their best forward was Brian Hurley. The few times they got the ball into him, it was at the corner flag.

"In their defence, Michael Shields and Eoin Cadogan got the run around. Cork didn’t close up the space that was there in front of Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue.

"Kerry had twice the number of turnovers as Cork; they were winning all the breaks.That’s a sign of a team who are hungry and who want to win.

"Kerry were making it happen; Cork were waiting for things to happen. The teams who makes things happen wins."             

  

"From a Kerry point of view it’s been a great four or five days after winning the junior, minor and senior Munster titles"

Needless to say, the eight-time All-Ireland winner was impressed by the manner in which Kerry added to their haul of Munster titles.

"From a Kerry point of view it’s been a great four or five days after winning the junior, minor and senior Munster titles.

"While we were very confident in Kerry that the minors were going to win, there certainly wasn’t a whole pile of confidence going to Páirc Ui Chaoimh. Could anyone have foreseen the result? Absolutely not.

"It was a top-drawer performance from Kerry – the best 70 minute performance by any county in this year’s football championship and – the biggest winning margin by a Kerry team ever in Páirc Ui Chaoimh."

Like a true Kerryman, Spillane is acutely aware that All-Ireland success is what it's all about.

He added: "All-Ireland titles aren’t handed out in July. The success or failure of a Kerry footballer’s season is based on September if you can climb up the steps and claim Sam Maguire. That’s when you can declare the year a success.

"The win over Cork was a good day at the office and it was a particularly good day for Eamonn Fitzmaurice who got his tactics and match-ups spot on."

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