Meyler: Howlett has a wealth of experience in performing at the top level

Meyler: Howlett has a wealth of experience in performing at the top level
Doug Howlett on the sideline with Cork. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

CORK hurling boss John Meyler believes Doug Howlett has been a massive addition to the Rebel set-up.

The former Munster and New Zealand rugby star came in at the start of the league to assist the hurlers, who begin the defence of their Munster title on May 12 at home to Tipp, with their mental preparation.

“He’s a fantastic sportsman and brings a wealth of experience in terms of performance at the higher level. He’s very much hands-on, and we’d hope he’ll bring that to the table.

“We’re delighted with him and the lads are delighted with him. He’s different to Gary Keegan.

“It’s about performing, and I spoke to him during the week about going into Newlands to play South Africa in front of 80,000 people, what’s coming at you, knowing what’s coming at you against Tipperary in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday week.”

Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Meyler, whose son David is a professional soccer player, is a firm believer in taking on board what other sports are doing, from Barca to the New England Patriots.

“Massively, you look at the likes of Barcelona and Manchester City, the way they move the ball — a lot of hurling is like that at the moment, working the ball and getting it back in high-pressure situations. You learn from sports like the NFL in terms of set plays and so on. You have to keep yourself open to the various sports around the place.”

Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire

The experienced bainisteoir is confident the Páirc will be in top condition after being shut down during the league.

"It’s looking green, I’m not a horticulturist or whatever, but the county board has put the resources into it, and hopefully that won’t be the conversation after the game. Hopefully, you’ll be talking about the hurling as distinct from the match against Wexford way back. That has to be right.

"After the Rod Stewart concert I think they’re closing it and resurfacing it, and please God it’ll be fine."

Picture: Dan Linehan
Picture: Dan Linehan

The show in the Páirc means the footballers will have to play their Munster semi-final, against Limerick or Tipp on the June Bank Holiday Saturday, in Páirc Uí Rinn. The hurlers host Waterford a week later on June 8 in the third of the hurling round-robin series.

However, as the revamped stadium had to be shut down to repair the pitch, the Rebel seniors haven't been able to train on it. 

"They are familiar, we would have trained there a lot last year before the Munster final and into the All-Ireland. We’re aware of that, and even when we weren’t training on the pitch we would have been down there in the gym and on the 4G pitch. The environment would have been the same. But you cross the white line and that’s it."

The Cork selectors have their captain Seamus Harnedy eligible after an issue following his red card in the league against Tipp.

Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

"It’s great to have Harnedy back - to have your best players back, that’s what you’re looking for. He’s a top-class intercounty player and he’s vital to us."

Colm Spillane, outstanding in last year's championship and a crucial figure in the Munster final when he switched on to John Conlon, is out for now though.

"He’s struggling at the moment but that gives an opportunity to another player." 

Having contested All-Irelands at minor and U21 in the past years, Cork aren't short of young guns to bring through. Niall O'Leary and Chris O'Leary were called up to the squad after UCC's Fitzgibbon Cup triumph but the likes of Daire Connery, brilliant recently for Na Piarsaigh against Killeagh, and Bride Rovers' Brian and Eoin Roche are tied up with their Leaving Cert.

"Daire is doing the Leaving. We’ve spoken to him, we’ve spoken to his Dad. You have to be fair to guys who are 19. The two Roches are in the same situation and we’ve looked at them."

Picture: Gavin Browne
Picture: Gavin Browne

Meyler explained the management are constantly looking at hurlers across all levels, and the manager himself pops up at club games throughout the year.

"The shop window was there since this time last year, you were looking at players in the U21 All-Ireland final, in the county championships last year, Fitzgibbon, Freshers, Harty Cup game - you’re looking at all of them."

Tim O'Mahony looked the part at full-forward for the U21s in 2018, but the seniors have developed him as a number six in the league.

"This time last year he was flying it and then he broke his elbow in a club match against Kanturk in Charleville. He’s played five or six games there (centre-back) now so we’ll see where he’s placed against Tipperary. He has matured, it’s his third year on the panel and now he’s matured he has a huge role to play on the panel."

Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Picture: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

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