'Momentum has shifted and down the home straight, lads showed leadership'
LORCaN McLoughlin has described Cork's remarkable League semi-final win over Dublin as "the good, the bad and the ugly".
Dublin led in Nowlan Park by 12 points (2-9 to 0-3) when David O'Callaghan carved through the Cork defence with ease for their second goal on 18 minutes.
Ger Cunningham's men also had a 10-point cushion as late as the 40-minute, and a still-formidable seven-point advantage when Liam Rushe knocked over his third point after 61 minutes.
"The first half was very bad, Dublin got a run on us," recalls McLoughlin now of Cork's one-point win.
"They are a highly motivated team and in the back of our minds, we knew the kind of intensity that Dublin were going to bring, especially after their performance a couple of weeks earlier up in Croke Park.
"It was no surprise that they were going to bring that intensity and they caught us a bit cold.
"But there was no panic, even at half-time, when we went into the dressing-room.
"We knew we hadn't performed well but there was always a sense that we were still in the game, and we could keep the scoreboard ticking over, and try to draw Dublin in score by score.
"Halfway through the second-half, it really looked like we needed a goal and in fairness, Paudie (O'Sullivan) delivered right on cue.
"And that was the pivotal point of the game," McLoughlin - who played at wing-back for Cork on the day - reckons now.
"Momentum shifted and when it came down the home straight, lads showed huge leadership.
"Obviously Patrick Horgan, Seamus Harnedy and Conor Lehane pushed us over the line."
The victory put Cork into Sunday's League final against Waterford, although the perception that Jimmy Barry Murphy's team lack a ruthless streak and are, on big occasions, defensively vulnerable, persists.
McLoughlin acknowledges that talk has penetrated their dressing-room but insists that Cork are still making their way back towards hurling's traditional elite.
"If you go back over the last few years, Kilkenny and Tipperary are the top teams," he notes.
"And they probably still are, no point in saying otherwise.
"It is something in our game that we have to develop, that ruthless streak - if that was Kilkenny or Tipperary last Sunday, they would have got a goal and that they would have finished us off, put us to the sword.
"That is something we have to develop, a ruthless streak, but we certainly have the firepower to do it."
McLoughlin concludes: "And defensively, we need to tighten up."