Rebels happy to be back playing – and winning

Dressing room reaction  Paul Hickey  There was relief on the faces of Cork’s new manager and captain when they spoke to the press outside the Cork dressing room after last Sunday’s game. Both men emphasised the importance of not getting carried away with this victory, with both manager and captain saying that Cork will be ‘keeping the heads down’ throughout the spring.   ‘It is a good start to our league campaign but we won’t be getting carried away with it,’ said Counihan. ‘The (Cork) lads showed plenty of spirit but at the end of the day it’s just one game and one fixture. We have Westmeath in two weeks’ time so we’ll be focusing on that from this moment onwards. There is nothing between the teams in this division and we are just hopeful that we can come out the right side of the match again the next day against Westmeath.’    The manager praised his players for their spirit and determination and attributed his team’s victory to the hunger of his starting fifteen. ‘I don’t take any of the credit. That’s down to the lads themselves: in the short time I’ve been involved they have shown a lot of spirit, a lot of determination, and a lot of pride. I am not going to take credit for those things because they are things that are coming from themselves. Winning today was a bonus for us. We worked hard and we grafted and I think that we got what we deserved.’    Counihan identified the phase of play the preceded half-time as having been crucial, and praised the contribution of his physically imposing centre half-forward Pearse O’Neill. He also pointed to his team’s strength-in-depth. ‘At half-time I was reasonably happy. We were just finding our own feet by the end of the first period and we made the most of it just before the break. Defensively I thought that we were very good, particularly in the second half. We showed today I think that we have great strength-in-depth: Eoin Sexton came in and did an excellent job after Anthony (Lynch) went off injured. ‘I was very pleased with the performance of Pearse O’Neill: he grabbed control of the situation before half-time and in a short time we made a lot of headway. I thought that Donncha O’Connor did very well too: goals win matches and he took his one very well. ‘There is almost nothing between the teams in division two and that’s an obvious concern for us. We’ll keep our heads down and we’ll work hard. I was very pleased with the spirit here today: coming to Roscommon on our first day out was always going to be difficult and tough but the lads were up for it and that’s what did it for us. Graham Canty was also happy with the win, and he attributed Cork’s fitness in the second half to the work that he and his team-mates have been doing with their clubs since Christmas. ‘We’re quite pleased, yeah, it’s great to get out and play again after so long. That’s all we’ve ever wanted to do. We did our very best today and I suppose we benefited in the second half from the fact that the players have been keeping in shape by training on our own and with our clubs. We’ll keep our heads down in the coming weeks and take each game as it comes.’