ROBERT DOWNEY has a strong passion for hurling that comes part and parcel of being a Glen Rovers player.
After months of extended inactivity, the Cork Senior Hurling Championship starts in two weeks and in some fashion as far as the Glen are concerned.
They will face old rivals St Finbarr’s in their opening championship clash of 2020, while the Glen also will have to face Na Piarsaigh and Carrigtwohill in what looks a tasty group overall.
Speaking to The Echo at the launch of the new Hurl Safe visor in Valley Rovers, Downey would love to help the Glen to another county title before the year 2020 is out. Only turning 21 this year, he was too young to feature when they last won in 2014-'15.
“The Glen is a good club with the history and tradition attached to it. Anytime you can win a County medal is always a very special time. We would love to get our hands on the cup again.
“Hopefully. We don’t know what way the year is going to pan out. But hopefully, we will be there or thereabouts this year.”
First up for the Glen is that eagerly awaited meeting with a familiar foe in St Finbarr’s, live on RTÉ on Bank Holiday Saturday.
The fact that the game is down to be played at Páirc Uí Chaoimh just shows the attraction of the fixture and it is sure to generate plenty of interest in the coming weeks. Last season the Glen were beaten in the county final by Imokilly, with Downey excellent throughout the campaign.
This season they need to emerge from a group which features great rivals Na Piarsaigh and Carrigtwohill, as well as the Blues.
“There is a long rivalry there between ourselves and The Barrs. No one really knows where clubs are at and things like how much training they have done.
“We are looking forward to it and I think we are one of the first games down the Páirc. But it will be good and one we are looking forward to.”
Downey also will be determined to play a key role for Cork on the inter-county side of things towards the latter stages of this year.
When the Rebels face off against Waterford in their Munster semi-final, it will most certainly be new territory for all in the intercounty scene lining out so late in the year.
“Look obviously Waterford are going to pose a very tough challenge,” states Downey.
"But we will just have to be ready for it. We will have to train away ourselves, as hard as we can with our clubs, and do bits ourselves on our own to keep us ticking over and stay sharp.
“We are under no illusions that Waterford will be a very tough battle and it is one we are looking forward to.”
It's 15 years ago since Cork lifted Liam McCarthy, which Downey and the current Cork setup would dearly love to change by securing the much-cherished silverware.
“Obviously Cork again is a huge county and it is probably 15 years too long since Cork have won the All Ireland.
“Hopefully we can challenge. All we can do is just train our hardest and see where it takes us come championship time.”
After such a long layoff from hurling action because of the Covid-19 lockdown, just getting able to train on a pitch again with the Glen is something which hurlers such as Downey are delighted to be able to do once more.
Downey describes how life was like during what were an unprecedented number of months.
“I suppose with the lockdown and things there wasn’t much going on, only we were just training away on our own, trying to just tick away.
“Once we got the phone call saying we were allowed to go back training, sure everyone was really delighted to be honest. It was nice to have something to look forward to in the evening again and be back out training with the lads.
“We are playing Championship now in less than a month. Everything is now focused towards the Championship and we are all really looking forward to it."
Downey adds: “I am lucky enough there, I have two brothers who both play hurling and both play for the Glen.
“So we were just out on the green and out in front of the house doing our own running.
“Everyone was sent out gym and running programmes. It made it a bit easier that I had the two of them to push me along and I pushed them along too.
“It was hard at times I won’t lie not being with the team as a bunch. But we got there and thankfully we are all back training now."
Downey was speaking at the launch of the Hurl Safe visor at Valley Rovers GAA club in Brinny.