All Ireland Football Championship: Tipperary’s belief points way for Cork, says Leesiders legend Tompkins
The drive, energy and spirit displayed by Tipperary in the All-Ireland hurling final should serve as an example to Cork footballers of how to approach Sunday's final.
That advice comes from Larry Tompkins, the last man to bring the Sam Maguire Cup back to Cork.
That was 20 years ago and since then Cork have lost four finals (1993, '99, '07 and '09), leaving the county with a severe dose of the jitters.
“Down will try to play on that nervousness. They'll be coming to Croke Park with all their usual confidence and swagger and will be hoping that it gives them an added edge,” said Tompkins.
“There's no doubt that there's a nervousness in Cork after what happened in recent years against Kerry at Croke Park, but the only way to deal with that is to take it on head-first and turn it into an advantage.
“Tipperary were up against the best team of all time in the hurling final but they didn't let that worry them — Cork have got to be equally positive about how they go about their business.”
Tompkins was a central figure in a Cork team that lost two All-Ireland finals in 1987 and '88 before winning the next two, a sequence which has raised hopes on Leeside that a broadly similar pattern is about to emerge.
“There's a difference, I suppose, in that we were unlucky to lose the '88 final. We felt we were the better team in both the draw and replay but just didn't put Meath away,” said Tompkins.
“The Cork public were still very much behind us and saw us as a team that was improving, whereas the present group are under fierce pressure to convince people they will make the breakthrough.
“People were very disappointed in their All-Ireland final performance in 2007 and again last year so the pressure is really on them to deliver now.”
However, Tompkins is backing them to do just that. “They haven't been able to maintain their form on a consistent basis. That has to be a worry. Even in the semi-final, you'd have to wonder if it was a case of Dublin losing their way at the end rather than Cork doing anything special,” he said.
While Cork have unpleasant memories of their jousts with Kerry at Croke Park, Tompkins believes that the experienced gained in recent seasons will be a significant factor on Sunday.
“There's no comparison between Cork and Down in terms of experience. All the Cork lads have been here before and while they might have lost, they still know what it's all about,” he said.
“Besides, the hurt they felt in 2007 and last year should be a help. Cork haven't played anywhere near as well as they can so far this year but I'd be hopeful that they will deliver on Sunday.”