CORK’S All-Ireland winning minor football coach, Bobbie O’Dwyer, admits it will feel like starting a new season all over again when the squad re-assembles in September.
“You were just getting to know the players, watching their characters develop and their football develop when lockdown came.
“So, it will be back to the drawing board again because in the intervening six months, when we get to see them again, they’ll have changed, matured, grown, and some will have got bigger and stronger, others won’t.
“It will be like starting with a brand new team again and I believe it will be the same for every minor squad. That’s the interesting part and that’s the challenge,” he said.
Cork were paired with Munster champions Kerry in the semi-final on a date and venue to be announced.
“It’s a round one of the championship and we’ll look forward to it now.
“With four teams in a semi-final we could have drawn any one of three and it is what it is. We should know more next week. Kerry have home venue, so I’m expecting Tralee.
“The organisers are not keen on double-headers with seniors and minors.”
Last year Cork lost to Kerry twice but re-grouped to claim an 11th All-Ireland title in a memorable 3-20 to 3-14 extra-time win over Galway.
“We would have learned a lot. It helped us get an idea on how to structure ourselves, giving us a good insight on how to be successful at that level.
“It’s back to the drawing board again, developing the basic skills and preparing for the championship.
“Pre-lockdown, we had done a body of work with them. Our start to the season was delayed a little bit because we went on so long in last year’s championship.
“Yet, that’s all up in the air now because we haven’t been together since the middle of March and won’t see them again until mid-September.
“We’ll try and get them ready for whenever we’re playing Kerry,” he commented.
Clare, Tipperary, Limerick, and Waterford will view the new-look draw as an opportunity to contest a provincial final and that’s sure to galvanise their challenge.
Cork and Kerry were seeded at the semi-final stage, but not separated when it came to the pairings.
On the opposite side of the draw, Clare meet Tipp and Limerick take on Waterford with the winners colliding in the semi-final.
INTER-COUNTY FOOTBALL FIXTURES
October 17-18: NFL Division 3: Cork v Louth. October 24-25: Longford v Cork.
Oct 31-Nov 1: Munster SFC quarter-finals: Waterford v Limerick, Clare v Tipperary.
Nov 7-8: Semi-finals: Cork v Kerry; Waterford or Limerick v Clare or Tipperary.
Nov 22: Final
Oct 31-Nov 1: Leinster SFC Round 1: Carlow v Offaly, Wexford v Wicklow, Louth v Longford.
Nov 7-8: Quarter-finals: Carlow or Offaly v Kildare; Wexford or Wicklow v Meath; Louth of Longford v Laois; Westmeath v Dublin.
Nov 14-15: Semi-finals: Carlow or Offaly or Kildare v Wexford or Wicklow or Meath; Louth or Longford or Laois v Westmeath or Dublin.
Nov 21: Final
Oct 31-Nov 1: Connacht SFC quarter-finals: London v Roscommon, Mayo v Leitrim.
Nov 7-8: Semi-finals: Galway v Sligo; London or Roscommon v Mayo or Leitrim.
Nov 14-15: Final
Oct 31-Nov 1: Ulster SFC Preliminary round/quarter-finals: Monaghan v Cavan; Derry v Armagh; Donegal v Tyrone.
Nov 7-8: Quarter-finals: Antrim v Monaghan or Cavan; Fermanagh v Down.
Nov 14-15: Semi-finals: Donegal or Tyrone v Derry or Armagh; Monaghan or Cavan or Antrim v Fermanagh or Down.
Nov 22: Final
Nov 28-29: All-Ireland MFC semi-finals: Munster winners v Connacht winners, Ulster winners v Leinster winners.
December 5: All-Ireland SFC semi-finals: Leinster winners v Ulster winners.
December 6: Munster winners v Connacht winners.
December 5-6: All-Ireland MFC final
December 19: All-Ireland SFC final.