The Peader Healy reign in Cork ends with a bitter irony: having floundered about for two years, they saved the best for last...and are still out of the Championship. Cork showed great character to rally from varying deficits last night - the largest seven points - but eventually succumbed to Mayo after extra-time.
Healy stepped down from his role after the game, becoming the latest managerial collateral after a dramatic Mayo game in Limerick.
Healy admitted that his had been a tough spell in charge, which featured relegation from Division One and various Munster championship humiliations: the hammering in Killarney at the beginning of the month followed a narrow one-point win away to Waterford and a clipping against Tipp last year.
Healy has naturally faced a lot of criticism, with Tomás O'Sé among the most vocal:
The job of the management is to have a team tactically ready. Waterford parked the bus and Cork looked as though they were playing a defensive team for the first time in their lives.
They are capable of putting up big performances but they are so few and far between.
I do think the management have a lot to answer for. They are in charge, they need to lead, they need to instill confidence. People in Cork are disgusted with the way things are turning out.
I have no doubt that Peadar Healy and his management are good GAA men but I'm not sure are they up to the job of leading this team.
Such a succession of poor results has seen much of the enthusiasm for the team in Cork fizzle out, and Paul Kerrigan has admitted that the footballers have been third on the list of priorities of late, behind the hurlers and the new Páirc Ui Chaoimh. That was borne out in the attendance last night, with very few Cork fans noticeable in stands smeared with green and red.
But they showed admirable heart and courage against Mayo last night, and amid two years of negative talk and criticism, Cork's Brian Hurley, who was absent last night through injury, called for Cork's players to get the respect they deserve:
Let's cut the shit! About time these boys got the respect they deserve. Boys being carried off the field, was a warrior of a performance!!!
— Brian Hurley (@BrianHurley15) July 22, 2017
The notion of restoring a bit of pride and respect to the Cork team was a dominant theme afterward:
Very proud of the cork footballers tonight.left everything out on the pitch.#respect
— Michael Kennedy (@mickkennedy1960) July 22, 2017
Good to see pride restored by Cork footballers today with great display. Time to give youth its chance now. Powter superb. #corkvmayo
— AODH QUINLIVAN ⚽️🏆 (@AodhQuinlivan) July 22, 2017
Cork showed pride in the jersey today and well deserved ..cork support in limerick today was disgraceful might as well been on In castlebar
— donnacha buckley (@buckley9992011) July 22, 2017
Cork footballers restored a bit of pride today. Brilliant performance in the second half and just fell short. Ref rode Cork too #GAA
— Jonathan Tuohy (@JT_92) July 22, 2017
Cork have a long way to go yet, and need to get their next managerial appointment right, but last night they proved they have the talent and the heart to recapture attention in their own county.