Cork U20 boss understands concerns about underage GAA going ahead

Cork U20 boss understands concerns about underage GAA going ahead

Declan Fitzgerald and the Cork U20 hurlers stand to attention before the game in Tralee. Picture: Domnick Walsh

CORK U20 hurling manager Pat Ryan conceded the debate about the inter-county season going ahead under increased Covid restrictions was a "big distraction" before their win over Kerry on Monday night.

The Rebels eventually beat their hosts 2-24 to 2-10, with Daire O'Leary, Brian Roche, Ciarán Joyce, Conor O'Callaghan and sub Brian Hayes the standout performers, to qualify for the Munster semi-final.

That game against Limerick is currently fixed for Bank Holiday Monday, and Ryan appreciates the concerns about whether GAA should be brought to a halt.

"There is for and against really. Young fellas are out and about, naturally. There's a body out there, anti-GAA people, that feel games shouldn't be played but I'd be hopeful the senior GAA, especially, should be played.

"As regards minor and U20, I'd be on the fence about whether it should be going ahead. At least the young fellas all got a lot of hurling in with their clubs. We'll have to just see what happens."

The Sars club man believes senior hurling and football is important for the sporting public in Ireland and will prepare for next week's game with Limerick if given the all-clear.

"From our side of things we'll keep driving on, the lads are very enthusiastic and we're very enthusiastic but I can understand the concerns from both a health and safety point of view and an optics point of view about whether U17s and U20s should be going ahead. We'll abide by whatever is decided."

On the game itself, Ryan was disappointed with Cork's attitude, especially in the opening quarter.

"We'd be disappointed with our efforts at times. We were very poor in the first quarter and went long with the ball too much. Our work-rate was down as well. We were better in the second and third quarters alright but I suppose we were red-hot favourites against Kerry and our mindset wasn't right. If your mindset isn't right you can't just turn it on when you come down."

He did feel a number of Cork hurlers impressed, while they'd be hopeful the likes of Daire Connery and Blarney's Pádraig Power, Shane O'Regan and Declan Hanlon are available for the semi-final.

"Now we were very happy with a few of the younger fellas. Daire O'Leary and Ciarán Joyce played excellently and the subs that came in made a difference so that's a positive.

"We'll need a huge improvement but the mindset will have to change and obviously we were short a few who'll be hoping to play if the Limerick game goes ahead.

"The subs who came in showed the right hunger. We're only back a few weeks and the likes of Brian Hayes and Jack Cahalane only came in after the Barrs-Castlehaven county football semi-final. They showed their very good players.

"Kerry is a smaller hurling area but they've huge pride in their hurling and also in wearing the Kerry jersey, whether it's hurling or football. They worked very hard and played some nice hurling too. It doesn't matter what stars or better-known players you have if you don't have work-rate."

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