CORK U20 hurling boss Denis Ring believes that tonight’s Munster final against Tipperary in Thurles represents a massive challenge for his team but one that they wholeheartedly embrace.
It’s a repeat of last year’s U21 final which was won convincingly by Cork but the All-Ireland final between the same counties was subsequently lost by the young Leesiders.
Only a handful of players from both counties are involved tonight but the Cork boss is hopeful that the team and squad can continue the good work that they exhibited in the victories over Limerick and Clare en-route to the final.
“It’s a massive challenge against a very strong Tipperary team that we looked at in their win over Waterford.
“They were awesome that night, they are a serious team in all areas but I would like to believe that we have a very good team ourselves.
“I would also like to believe that are a battle-hardened side after those wins over Limerick and Clare when we finished strongly in both games.
“That was a good sign of our fitness levels to be able to do that and it was very pleasing."
Tipperary have home advantage tonight, 7.30pm live on TG4, but Ring believes that won’t be a problem.
“No, Cork teams in general like going up to Thurles, this is the stage you want to be on, playing in a Munster final up there.
“We have trained well since the game against Clare and we have a situation where there is intense competition for places.
“Every one of them wants to play and they have put in a huge effort for us since we began our season’s preparations."
Both teams are assured of All-Ireland semi-final places against either Wexford or Kilkenny but Ring wants to be going into that game as Munster champions.
“It didn’t work out for us last year after winning Munster but we want to be playing in an All-Ireland semi-final as Munster champions.
“We want to go through that front door and take it on from there afterward. We have learned quite a lot about our own players up to now and we learned a good bit too about Tipp the night they beat Waterford.
“They have a few seniors in their team, Jake Morris is on the senior team that will be playing Wexford next Sunday and all over the field they seem to be very strong.
“We have Ger Millerick and Rob Downey from the senior squad and in the two games we played, we scored well and were composed at the back.
“We missed chances too in both games and I’d like to think there’s more in us. There will probably have to be tonight because this is the ultimate challenge right now.’’