O’Halloran takes Cork football life in his stride

Posted by

By Peter McNamara

Nonchalantly kicking placed balls from various angles and distances alongside Colm O’Neill, Daniel Goulding and Donncha O’Connor was what Ken O’Halloran was at when the media arrived at Páirc Uí Rinn for Cork’s Munster SFC final presser.

Care-free, the quartet were relaxed, shooting the breeze and aiming for the posts.

For those suggesting Cork’s players will have been on edge in advance of meeting Kerry in the provincial final, that picture certainly did not frank the theory.

Even though the world and its mother seem to foresee this forthcoming clash as a straightforward victory for Éamonn Fitzmaurice’s side, the Rebels are unperturbed.

O’Halloran and co literally do not give two hoots about how they are perceived, either.

The almost automatic negativity that seems to attach itself to football at the highest level on Leeside no longer impacts on those entrusted with the red jersey.

O’Halloran is beyond taking notice of outside opinions including that of Tomás Ó Sé who heavily criticised Cork recently.

“Personally, I actually came off Twitter for a while and stopped looking at newspapers after the league,” he explained.

“Obviously, you are going to have family and friends that throw a comment or two your way but you have to insulate yourself from that.

“All of that is for people at home reading the Sunday papers or whatever, giving them something to talk about.

“For us, though, it is all about training and playing.

“Obviously, it’s not that easy to get away from but because I am teaching, personally, it is easier for me in the summer as you are only really surrounding yourself with teammates.

“When I was first in the camp I was probably reading stuff and what not but now I think everyone is experienced enough not to buy into it.

“If you read the positive stuff you believe it, if you read the negative stuff you believe it so you don’t need the pressure of being bigged up or even being a bit deflated before a big game.”

O’Halloran is, by nature, a laidback character.

He takes the highs and lows of senior inter-county fare in his stride.

He, too, can appreciate how the younger panel members are in the midst of adjusting to life as a player at such an exalted standard.

“A lot of them have a year or so of experience now, have gotten through big games, might have taken a hammering in the media and dealt with it and gotten used to all of the other outside influences.

“You have immediate and extended families going to games and all of that as well, things they would not have had as much of at U21 level.

“They might have been dropped and had everybody around them talking about it and that might be alright at U21 too but at senior level you really have to insulate yourself from that.

“I think though that lads are using the experience of last year to their benefit and are bouncing back this year,” the Bishopstown clubman outlined.

O’Halloran agreed that in the present climate of the inter-county senior sphere, players do need a couple of seasons before being fully accustomed to life in the fast lane.

“Having experienced fellas in the camp does help and we have All-Ireland-winning experience in our camp at that.

“And those guys can offer a bit of guidance too. You see Shieldsy as captain and other lads guiding fellas along.

“If they need advice on how to deal with big games, training, diet or nutrition, anything like that it is there for those less experienced players,” O’Halloran stated.