O’Connor added, “It’s been a tough year. There was a bit of hangover from losing the All-Ireland final. That was a very tough defeat, it was an All-Ireland we felt we could and should have won.
“There was a lot of baggage trying to deal with the fallout from that. I felt for a lot of this year I was finding it very, very hard to get the boys back where we needed them to be. We got a lot of satisfaction in the last four-to-six weeks when the boys turned that around and got back to where they needed to be. But it was year that took its toll.”
CORK boss Jimmy Barry Murphy has urged his players to learn from their All-Ireland disappointment.
The young Rebels lost out to Galway in Sunday’s All-Ireland semi-final as a promising season came to an end.
“The better team won on the day. We have no complaints,” said Barry Murphy afterwards.
“They picked off some great scores in the second half when we found it harder to get scores. They were the better team, no doubt about that.
“We certainly got opportunities but we found it harder to get scores than Galway did. I thought we played very well. We were in it until five minutes to go.
“Galway’s have some brilliant forwards and I think they just found their scores easier to come by than we did.”
Cork will go back to the drawing board over the winter, with their boss adamant they can progress even further in 2013.
He told RTE Radio, “We have certainly made progress this year but we have a long way to go. You saw Galway today and, Tipperary and Kilkenny equally, they are right up there.
“They are a bit higher than us and we have a lot of work to do yet. But I am delighted we have made some progress.”
JBM also believes Galway can put it up to Kilkenny or Tipperary in the All-Ireland decider.
He said, “Galway are an outstanding team. They are very, very physical, at the back especially. They have an outstanding centre-back and Fergal Moore had a great game today.
“Obviously, Joe Canning is a massive factor up front for them, although I thought Brian Murphy did a great job today.
“They are there with a great chance. We saw the Leinster final display and they are going into the All-Ireland final with a great chance.”
MAYO will definitely be without captain Andy Moran for the All-Ireland semifinal against Dublin after he picked up a serious knee injury in the quarterfinal win over Down.
Dublin boss Pat Gilroy expects Alan Brogan to be fit for the All-Ireland SFC semi-final against Mayo on September 2 . . .
DUBLIN came from behind to snatch victory over Clare in the All-Ireland minor hurling semi-final last Sunday . . .
KILKENNY expect to have key defender Brian Hogan fit for Sunday’s All-Ireland semifinal against Tipperary . . .
WESTMEATH native Emmet McDonnell is the surprise appointment as manager of the Offaly footballers . . .
ANTHONY Daly looks certain to stay on as manager of the Dublin hurling team for another year . . .
LAOIS want Justin McNulty to stay on as manager after reaching the All-Ireland quarterfinals . . .
JOHN Brennan has yet to decide if he will manage the Derry footballers for another year.