All these slow starts are a killer - Lorcan McLoughlin
CORK hurlers must eradicate their penchant for slumbering starts, according to Lorcán McLoughlin.
The Rebels have been stuck to the floor at the outset of their last three matches. This bad habit eventually caught up with them in Sunday's Allianz Hurling League final when they lost by ten points, having given Waterford a four-point head start after a tepid first quarter.
But this merely aped similar openings against Wexford in the quarter-final (when they trailed by eight points shortly before half-time) and against Dublin in the semi-final (when they fell 12 adrift inside the opening quarter).
"The same against Dublin, same against Wexford," lamented McLoughlin, "and it's hard to put your finger on it. It is hugely disappointing.
"Our aim was to get out of the traps early, but Waterford played with a hunger and intensity and we didn't get up to the pitch of the game ... and when you fall behind to teams like Waterford, they put the boot down and drove on in the second half."
Cork have five weeks to analyse Sunday's setback and ensure there is no stuck-in-neutral repeat when the counties renew Munster SHC combat.
"Maybe it's no harm to take next week off and build towards the Munster championship again," McLoughlin suggested.
"Every aspect of our game needs to improve 100 per cent, and it was no surprise the game plan Waterford had or the work rate they would bring.
"Look, there is no excuse for that performance. It's a national league final, there was silverware up for grabs and Waterford played with a hunger and intensity … they played like champions from the start and we didn't turn up again."
Cork remain favourites, albeit marginal ones, for their June 7 SHC rematch, but McLoughlin warned: "Looking at that display, you wouldn't think so."