Cork U20 squad nurturing young football talent in the development league

Cork U20 squad nurturing young football talent in the development league

Cathal O'Mahony being tackled by Kerry's Chris O'Donoghue last week. Picture: Denis Boyle

CORK preserved their unbeaten record in the John Kerins Cup by drawing 1-18 apiece with Dublin at the Laois Centre of Excellence last weekend.

It followed on from their 0-19 to 1-16 draw with Kerry in Clonakilty the previous Wednesday and they're in action again against Galway in Claughaun on Saturday as part of a double-header involving Kerry-Dublin.

Dublin sit on top of the table of this U20 Development League competition with three points, having opened with a 2-14 to 0-14 win over Kildare, who also lost to Galway by 1-18 to 0-10 at the weekend.

Cork made a number of changes from the Kerry game with Carrigaline's Jack McCarthy starting in the half-back line and Kanturk's Daniel O'Connell and Éire Óg's Jack Murphy in the half-forwards.

Positional switches resulted in captain Peter O'Driscoll (Ilen Rovers) diverting to centre-forward from midfield with Mark Hodnett (Carbery Rangers) moving in the opposite direction.

Only Colm Barrett (St Finbarr's) and Cathal O'Mahony (Mitchelstown) retained their starting positions from the first match.

CORK: J Smith (Charleville); M O'Mahony (Knocknagree), M Shanley (Clonakilty), P Ring (Aghabullogue); J McCarthy (Carrigaline), S Hickey (Millstreet), S Meehan (Kiskeam); M Hodnett (Carbery Rangers), B Hartnett (Douglas); D O'Connell (Kanturk), P O'Driscoll (Ilen Rovers), captain, J Murphy (Éire Óg); C Barrett (St Finbarr's), C O'Mahony (Mitchelstown), B Murphy (St Vincent's). 

Subs: I Giltinan (Carrigaline), C Smith (Aghabullogue), R Maguire (Castlehaven), J O'Donovan (Nemo Rangers), B Hayes (St Finbarr's), M Cronin (Nemo Rangers), L Grainger (St Michael's), M Kelly (Castlemartyr), D Moynihan (Ballydesmond).

Coach Keith Ricken said Cork have used 24 players to-date and paid tribute for their efforts in playing a second time in three days.

“It was a strange game because there was no scoreboard so we were relying on our own stats people.

“In games like this we are really only interested in the performance as it's an opportunity to try out lads.

“The game itself was almost a carbon copy of the Kerry performance from a Kerry point of view.

“We were four points down at half-time as Kerry were against us. Cathal O'Mahony finished off a very good move for our goal in the second-half.

“We were a point up near the end, when a long range free dropped short and Dublin were able to attack one more time to get the equaliser from a free,” he added.

This is the first year of the competition and is meant to replace challenge games ahead of the championship, which starts next month.

“I think it needs to be tweaked a bit, there's no doubt about that. The timing, for instance, co-incides with the Leaving Cert so a lot of players miss out. On that note we'd like to wish all of them the best of luck.

“So, as regards preparing for the championship it doesn't do that, but it does tick the box as a development competition.

“You're excluding a big number of lads. We've 16-17 lads sitting the Leaving who are eligible this year and next and you'd like them to have the opportunity of representing their county. Still, I'm happy with the overall emphasis.

“The games are proving to be competitive, but not the be-all-and-end-all.” Ricken believes that Cork football is not a million miles away and that the talent is there for the county to be well able to compete.

“I think with the new job that Conor Counihan has and a new strength and conditioning co-ordinator in the county coming on board that Cork football is going in the right direction though it will take a while.

“People will see the changes on the ground in time and I believe the changes will be positive.

“Our job with the U20s is to put a structure in place in the hope that in the next few years that all the other structures will come together.

“It's been a good couple of weeks for Cork football. The minors beat Clare to reach the Munster final. We had draws with Kerry and Dublin and the seniors put on a very good performance against Limerick.

“It was definitely positive and it's been a while since we had such encouraging results and displays.”

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