THE Cork senior football team must plan without goalkeeper Mark White for the coming season.
Ronan McCarthy’s side begin their campaign with a McGrath Cup clash away to Kerry on Sunday, December 29, but Clonakilty clubman White, who has been first-choice goalkeeper under McCarthy for the past two seasons, will not be involved as he is going to America next year.
Nemo Rangers goalkeeper Micheál Martin was back-up to White last year and made his championship debut in the Super 8s clash against Roscommon at the beginning of August. He is likely to be favourite to take the number 1 spot but for now he and his club-mates are focusing on the All-Ireland semi-final against Corofin in the weekend in January.
Anthony Casey of Kiskeam, who was in goal as Cork reached the All-Ireland U21 final in 2016, is a possible candidate for a place in the squad, having been part of the training panel ahead of the McGrath Cup.
Meanwhile, Cork selector Seán Hayes believes that some of the stars of this year’s All-Ireland U20 victory are ready to stake a claim for inclusion too.
“You’d imagine the likes of Damien Gore, Cathal O’Mahony, Colm O’Callaghan, Maurice Shanley has been impressive,” he said.
“Will they make the panel? I don’t know, but these kind of guys, Seán Meehan, Peter O’Driscoll, have impressed. They’ve all been out training with us since we’ve started and they’ve done well.
“The whole squad have been back since the start of December. Obviously, the Nemo lads aren’t back yet, hopefully they’ll be gone another month, but bit by bit everyone else was back with us as championships finished.
“The way we’re looking at it is that progress was made last year but you can’t rest on that, you have to build on it. Obviously, for 2020 getting out of Division 3 is an important goal for us and getting back into the Super 8s and doing better.
“You have to take it one step at a time.”
Another addition to the Cork set-up is former Kildare manager Cian O’Neill, who has previously been involved with Kerry and Mayo football teams and Tipperary hurlers.
“Cian has taken over the coaching from Eddie Kirwan and he has added to it as well,” Hayes said.
“The boys have bought in to what he’s trying to do and training has been very good so far.
“The thing is that you can’t leave it on the training pitch, you have to bring it to the football pitch, so we’ll see how it goes in January.