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Conor O'Callaghan. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Conor O'Callaghan. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
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Cork U20 hurlers have the right stuff to make a serious challenge

HAVING the quality and strength of character to finish as strongly as you have started is a mantra that successful teams try to bring to the table.

In the short space of a week the Cork U20 hurlers have been able do just that, killing off the opposition in the final quarter of the game.

They did it against Limerick and they were able to repeat it against Clare last Wednesday night at Páirc Uí Rinn.

And by doing so they have now given themselves a fighting chance of retaining the Munster title and going on to win the All-Ireland later in the year.

From what we have seen thus far, Denis Ring and his management team have constructed a team and squad more than capable of challenging strongly for honours as the season ages.

In the final 20 minutes on Wednesday night, they outscored Clare by 0-10 to 0-3 and that impressive return saw them safely berthed in the provincial final and subsequently in the All-Ireland semi-final.

Very much a case of killing two birds with the one stone.

Judging a team that has won nothing yet can be very foolish but there’s quite a lot of talent in this Cork squad, particularly from midfield inwards.

That’s not suggesting that the defence is not as strong because it is but nine times out of 10 the forwards will get the bulk of the accolades afterwards A return of 24 points was very decent scoring for the night and some of those efforts were sublimely executed.

Shane O'Regan. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Shane O'Regan. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

One, in particular, really caught the eye from Watergrasshill’s Shane O’Regan in the second-half.

After a superb aerial fetch, he turned to deliver a quite fantastic point, one that you’d travel a long way to see.

He was one of the players that finished out the game in splendid fashion and he has now scored 1-11 in two games.

Midleton’s Tommy O’Connell secured some wonderful scores too as did Sean Twomey from Courcey Rovers.

Then you had the sheer class, pace and the ability to turn opponents of Brian Turnbull from Douglas and the equally effective Daire Connery.

Robert Downey’s aerial ability was seen to great effect a few times and Ger Millerick was ultra-consistent all through.

If a fault was to be found, there was no real goal scoring threat and in the two games, just the one has been delivered.

But that’s being a bit negative after two fine wins.

In both instances, questions were posed by the opposition and that wasn’t a bad thing either.

Those questions may well stand to them when they head for Thurles the week after next.

After all, whilst Tipperary looked very good against Waterford on Tuesday night, there was nothing really asked of them because, let’s be honest, Waterford were desperately poor, another illustration of the poor place hurling in the county is in right now.

You could suggest that Cork will go into the Munster final as the more battle-hardened side but then again we must wait and see.

Cork may or may not be successful from here on in but you would have to say that there is some outstanding talent coming through.

And quite a few of the players we have seen on duty are going to be figuring in the senior set-up sooner rather than later.

Brian Turnbull of Cork is presented with his Man of the Match award by Ódhran Bohane. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Brian Turnbull of Cork is presented with his Man of the Match award by Ódhran Bohane. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The skill and pace of young Turnbull is a joy to behold and he is in very good company with this team.

This team is not the finished product, no team is and as the season ages and bigger questions are posed, there may be a need to be less wasteful and more clinical with the final delivery.

In both games to date, the opposition was still very much in the game with 20 minutes to go when maybe they should not have been.

But the strong finish from the home team made up for that and this team will head to Semple Stadium in a good place and with cause for cautious optimism.

It’s very much a case of so far, so good for a bunch of players, a lot of them that we should be hearing a lot more about in the coming years.