Club hurlers can use this unique season to show their inter-county potential

Club hurlers can use this unique season to show their inter-county potential
Sarsfields' James Sweeney combination of height and skill caused wreck against Midleton last Friday. Picture: Gavin Browne

THE provincial hurling championship, it is hard to believe, is still the best part of nearly three months away.

However all the management teams are out in force at the moment scanning the club scene in the hope that one or two players might emerge that could enter their plans.

A player that might have fallen out of favour in some counties could suddenly re-discover his best form on the club front and by the time the championship in his county is over he might well have forced his way back into the county team’s plans.

After all, when a player is left out of the picture by the county’s team manager the first thing that you will be told is that the door remains open for him to return.

In most cases that never comes to pass but you can never say never.

Last weekend in the Waterford SHC, Maurice Shanahan, who had been dropped from the county team’s panel by new boss Liam Cahill, scored a whopping 2-17 for Lismore against Fourmilewater and if he was to continue with that kind of form, Cahill’s hand might be forced into recalling him to the Waterford set-up.

Of course, one swallow never made a Summer and Shanahan has to keep on impacting for the club to make the Waterford management think again.

This season is totally different to any other down through the years in so far as an inter-county management team have an entire club championship campaign to assess players before they set off on the trail in the province.

In seasons past you just had one round of the county championship that was played in April before the whole thing shut down again, in some cases until the county side had exited the championship Here in Cork, Kieran Kingston and the rest of his selectors are, no doubt, having a good look at how things are going on the club front.

The team to play Waterford in the opening round of the Munster championship is not set in stone but the likelihood is that it won’t alter that much from last season.

However, if a player makes a major impact over the coming weeks for his club he could suddenly find himself getting a call and being looked at in a challenge game or two that Cork might play before they take on Liam Cahill’s men.

We didn’t get to see all the games last weekend, that’s not humanly possible but in the few that we did see a few players caught the eye.

Two of them were from Sars in their win over Midleton.

The two that we are talking about are Liam Healy and James Sweeney. Healy is very highly rated in Riverstown and has been for some time now while Sweeney brings a strong aerial dimension to the side.

Last weekend against Midleton they provided some food for thought.

Of course, there is a vast difference between a club game in an empty stadium and a Munster championship match in Thurles but you must start somewhere.

For any newcomer to force the hand of a county team boss he has to display real consistency over an entire campaign.

One very good outing must be followed by another and so on.

Over the past few seasons, it has been suggested that Cork’s squad does not contain the depth of other counties, Limerick for example as we saw when they defeated Cork in Croke Park two years ago.

It’s a point that has to be agreed with so, therefore, finding some fresh material is the priority for any Cork boss.

Colm Spillane’s return of 1-7 for Castlelyons against Blackrock in the PIHC was interesting, a quality defender turning attacker.

Niall McCarthy’s brace of points for Carrigtwohill after he was introduced as a substitute reminded us of the player that he was in his prime.

His inter-county career is long over and what a pity, just the type of player with a cutting edge that made so much difference.

Maybe this weekend another player or two might raise their hand and get a mention at Kingston’s management meetings.

There are plenty of very good club hurlers around but elevating themselves on to the higher stage is a different matter altogether.

We’ll have to wait and see.

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