Cork’s 2011 campaign is one which Rebels will think of as “what might have been.”
Having hammered a Down side that so nearly beat them in the 2010 All-Ireland final; one week later Cork were undone by a lively Mayo with arch nemesis Kerry waiting in the wings in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Cork manager Conor Counihan refused to make excuses for that defeat to the Yew County on the last day of July last year:
“I don’t think we will ever really know (if injuries cost us an All-Ireland),” he said.
“It was something that happened and you have to deal with it. What might or might not have happened, I don’t get involved too much in that. You have to deal with the reality and what you can control.”
The defeat to the Connacht champions denied Cork the chance to beat Kerry for the first time ever at Croke Park, with Mayo themselves being pummeled by nine points by the 36 times All-Ireland winners in that semi-final.
On Sunday, Cork will be looking to become the first side to win three consecutive top-tier league titles since Kerry won four in a row from 1971 to ’74. Cork also reached the league 2 final back in 2009.
Counihan also confirmed that the fact that there was semi-finals for the 2012 campaign meant that his Cork side had some room for error this time around (as opposed to previous league campaigns when the league phase was followed immediately by a final):
“There were stages during the league where we did start poorly. Maybe in the last game or two, things have improved in that area,” he said.
“Our performances haven’t been consistent from game to game and we haven’t been consistent during games, in that we tend to get on top and then sit back. We need to drive on once we get on top and keep the momentum up for as long as possible.”