Meyler sees value in blood­ing young guns in the Mun­ster league

The Corkman - - SPORT - BY DE­NIS HUR­LEY

CORK’S CoOpSu­perS­tores.ie Mun­ster Hurl­ing League cam­paign wasn’t a suc­cess­ful one, with de­feats to Clare and Water­ford end­ing the county’s chances of reach­ing the fi­nal, but coach John Meyler was pleased with the op­por­tu­nity to un­earth new ta­lent.

The less-pres­surised en­vi­ron­ment of the pro­vin­cial league – and last Sun­day’s Canon O’Brien Cup win over UCC – is the per­fect land­scape in which to blood play­ers and Meyler was keen to take the pos­i­tives in that re­gard.

“How else can I play play­ers?” he said.

“We’re away to Kilkenny in three weeks’ time in the Na­tional League and I can’t just throw Robert Downey in against TJ Reid and those play­ers. He’s too raw.

“You use these games be­cause, while there’s a cer­tain amount of pres­sure, it gives young play­ers like Conor O’Cal­laghan and Seán O’Leary-Hayes ten min­utes, 20 min­utes, and gets them into the sys­tem.

“There were 2,000 peo­ple in Mal­low, Water­ford named a strong team and we had just one sea­soned cam­paigner, Christo­pher Joyce.

“Water­ford had Kevin Mo­ran, [Michael] ‘Brick’ Walsh, Austin Glee­son came on – those are all se­nior play­ers, some of them have been play­ing se­nior for Water­ford for ten years and more. We’re try­ing to blood new young play­ers but it’s a two- or three-year plan.

“The likes of Mark Cole­man and Dar­ragh Fitzgib­bon came in di­rectly a cou­ple of years ago, but that’s a rar­ity.”

Last Wed­nes­day’s game in Mal­low was one where Cork com­peted well in the first half, lead­ing by two at the break, be­fore Water­ford’s ex­pe­ri­ence told in the se­cond pe­riod.

Michael

Walsh’s goal tied the game and a flurry of points for the more ex­pe­ri­enced Déise side put them into a lead that they would not re­lin­quish, giv­ing Páraic Fan­ning vic­tory in his first out­ing as man­ager.

The fi­nal score was 1-24 to 1-18 in favour of the vis­i­tors but, nev­er­the­less, Meyler felt that in­di­vid­ual play­ers did well, which bodes pos­i­tively ahead of what is likely to be a com­pet­i­tive Al­lianz Hurl­ing League Divi­sion 1A cam­paign.

In what is the fi­nal year of the cur­rent for­mat, the top four will ad­vance to the quar­ter-fi­nals, but the bot­tom two will clash in a rel­e­ga­tion play-off.

Last year, Cork were caught in that tie – coin­ci­den­tally against Water­ford, whom they beat to stay up, and Meyler is hope­ful that the play­ers given their head in the Jan­uary com­pe­ti­tion can chal­lenge for places in the spring to en­sure a strong squad is avail­able to the man­age­ment.

“We had some good per­for­mances against a strong Water­ford team,” he said.

“Tim O’Ma­hony hit some ball and De­clan Dal­ton had a few scores. A win and we would have been play­ing Tip­per­ary in the fi­nal in a cou­ple of weeks, but as it is we’ve had a cou­ple of games and we’ve used them to blood these play­ers to see where they’re at.

“We have a few in­juries as well that we’re deal­ing with, but we’ve had a look at lads like Conor Ca­ha­lane, and his en­ergy and speed – if we could har­ness that for the league, that’s the kind of pos­i­tive we need.

“This op­por­tu­nity, the Mun­ster se­nior league, is a com­pe­ti­tion that ex­poses these lads to games with­out putting that 100 per cent pres­sure on them. Pa Collins gets two games in goal, Robert Downey, Niall O’Leary, all those lads get games, and that helps with their de­vel­op­ment over the next cou­ple of

years.”

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