Rebel ace Goulding says dual players are easy 'target' for Cork's Munster final critics
DANIEL Goulding has defended Cork's three dual players, insisting they are "an easy target" for those who compelled to criticise in the wake of their Munster SFC final flop to Kerry in Páric Uí Chaoimh last Sunday.
Damien Cahalane, Eoin Cadogan and Aidan Walsh all played in the 12-point loss and are likely to do so again this Sunday at the same venue when the Rebels contest the Munster SHC final with Limerick.
Walsh, in particular, was singled out on The Sunday Game as performing well below his best on the day, with many pundits intimating that his dual commitments had come to the detriment of his individual performance.
"They're probably giving more effort than anyone," Goulding responded. "They're at both codes and that's got its own challenges and it's probably hard for them to switch every week as well.
"They're not going out not trying to represent themselves in the best possible way and do it for the team. It is what it is, people have their opinions.
"I think a lot of our lads are hopefully mature enough to not take it to heart. Everyone's frustrated. We're frustrated. The only way we can respond now is to try to rectify it and make sure that what happened last Sunday doesn't happen again."
Indeed, so bad was some of the online criticism of Cork's performance, the GPA was compelled to a response, slamming the abuse as being "beneath contempt."
"I didn't receive anything personally," Goulding explained. "And even if I did...to be honest everyone is entitled to their opinion, it's a free world and free speech.
"But for us as players we can't really get involved in that, there's no-one more disappointed than us. We don't need to be told that we didn't perform and let ourselves down.
"We don't need to be told that. All we can listen to now is ourselves and our management and make a plan going forward.
"As I said, look, everyone is entitled to their opinion and they're entitled to vent their frustration but what we can do is not focus on that because it can bring you down.
"What we can do is focus on ourselves and make a plan to rectify this."
Acknowledging the symbolism of such a disastrous loss to Cork in the last football match to be be played in Páric Uí Chaoimh before its reconstruction, Goulding also accepts Kerry's dominance as being almost total.
"They just killed us on breaks," he admitted. "They just took over our kick-outs and we couldn't get the ball past midfield or our half-forward line," adding: "they took an awful lot of chances and before we knew it we were down eight or nine points and really, really chasing, and the plan just goes out the window then."
Still, if form is indicative of anything, it's that Cork are in trouble.
In their last three games, they've blown a ten point lead against Dublin to lose by seven in the League semi-finals, cashed in all their luck to get past Tipperary in the Munster semi-final and then wiped by Kerry on home soil last Sunday.
"We're a united group," Goulding insists. "I don't think there's a blame game with any of our players to any other players. It's all about rectifying it, picking out what we did wrong individually and collectively, and working to make sure it doesn't happen again.
"We haven't turned into a bad team overnight.
"It's just a case of finding a bit more cohesion in how we play together and getting that bit more aggression out of us and a bit of confidence back into us. There are a lot of good players in that panel.
"I'm fully confident that we can pick ourselves up again. We've three weeks to plan for what's going to be a very hard qualifier. It's either lie down or get back in the saddle again and that's what we intend to do."