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Brian Turnbull taking on the Galway defence. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Brian Turnbull taking on the Galway defence. Picture: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Brian Turnbull was the breakout star of the Cork minors in 2017 but is only now getting back to his best

GOOD news for Cork hurling fans: hugely promising Douglas forward Brian Turnbull is back at full tilt for the summer.

The just turned 20-year-old will spearhead the attack for the Rebels in the Bord Gáis Energy U20 Munster series in early July when Limerick come to Páirc Uí Rinn.

Turnbull at the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy U20 Championship. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Turnbull at the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy U20 Championship. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Denis Ring’s charges will be expected to challenge for silverware after the core of the squad came close to ultimate glory at minor.

The UCC student was electrifying for the minors two years ago when they reached the All-Ireland, zipping over 1-51 in six games and 1-7 in the final loss to Galway.

Turnbull’s reward was the Minor Hurler of the Year award but soon after he damaged his cruciate at club football training.

It genuinely was a breakthrough campaign because he’d been on the fringes of the team a year earlier and didn’t feature on Cork’s A development squads at U14 and U15.

There was no chance to push on though, instead the then Rochestown College pupil had to concentrate on recovering and strengthening his knee again.

He appeared in the Douglas and Cork geansaís in 2018, but he was only back training three weeks before appearing off the bench in the U21 final defeat to Tipp.

Brian Turnbull battles Damien Cahalane. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Brian Turnbull battles Damien Cahalane. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“There’s a huge difference between being fit and being at the same level you were. It’s taken a lot since to get there,” he explained at the launch of the Bord Gáis championship.

Freshers hurling in UCC under the tutelage of Tom Kenny, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín and Martin ‘Gatchy’ Walsh in a team which included Robert Downey and James Keating, was a significant help. He made a concerted effort to attend as many training sessions as possible.

“You’re basically marking county minors and it showed I wasn’t up to it yet really when I went in.

“The sessions were excellent and even though you were pushed hard there was no pressure either. And look when the likes of Tom Kenny, Seán Óg and Gatchy speak you listen.”

Turnbull making his comeback last August against Tipp. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Turnbull making his comeback last August against Tipp. Picture: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

While recovery from injury was Turnbull’s priority since September 2017, he’s also conscious of the need to expand his game. Alan Cadogan was his role model, while he’s a fan of Limerick powerhouse Aaron Gillane.

“I loved watching Alan when I was coming up, especially being from my club. His style of coming out in front was definitely what I looked to copy.

“What I like about Gillane is that whatever way the ball comes in, he’s a threat. He’s not predictable which makes him hard to mark because he can catch ball in behind and beat you for pace in front.”

Interestingly, Turnbull wasn’t converted into a forward until his mid-teens. Coached by Martin Barry, Douglas last a Féile All-Ireland final when he was midfield, with Ross Howell and James Holland among the key hurlers in that line-up.

Na Piarsaigh's Conor Bowen clears his lines from Brian Turnbull at U14 level. Picture: David Keane.
Na Piarsaigh's Conor Bowen clears his lines from Brian Turnbull at U14 level. Picture: David Keane.

He’d dabbled in hockey, his father’s sport, up to U10 and was right back in a fine College Corinthians soccer team. The Arsenal fan also picked up a First Year All-Ireland for Roco.

“I took it as seriously as hurling until about U15 when I had to make a choice,” he explained.

“Even though I wasn’t making the Cork A team I got focused at that age. I was always looking for ways to improve. I was only on the minor panel at 17 so my first big game was against Waterford (in 2017).

“I wasn’t even sure I’d be starting until the week of that game so I don’t think anyone was at me. You need confidence at corner-forward and that went well for me.”

Kept grounded by his parents Derek and Margaret and siblings Ian and Sarah, he certainly doesn’t think he’s made it yet.

Turnbull in 2008 in the Douglas Street Leagues.
Turnbull in 2008 in the Douglas Street Leagues.

“When you look at it I haven’t even proved myself at senior with Douglas yet. I played at 18 when we lost to Killeagh and I was just coming back when we were beaten by the Barrs last year.

“Stephen Moylan has been a great help lately. He’d drive you on and has so much experience from playing with the Cork seniors and UCC in the Fitzgibbon Cup as well.”

That could lie ahead for Turnbull as well. First up though, is the Bord Gáis Energy U20 championship.

“At the start of the year it was a lot of the lads from the minor two years ago but the selectors have brought in new faces since the Harty Cup final between Midleton and Christians so there’s competition for places. No one is taking anything for granted.”

Brian Turnbull in Harty Cup action for Rochestown. Picture: Larry Cummins.
Brian Turnbull in Harty Cup action for Rochestown. Picture: Larry Cummins.