For all the impressive club displays, Imokilly remain the team to beat

For all the impressive club displays, Imokilly remain the team to beat
Imokilly's Shane Hegarty hammers home a goal from UCC's Conor Gleeson. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

IMOKILLY had the opportunity over the weekend to throw an eye over what will be the chasing pack in the Cork County SHC.

The champions for the past two years have already got their defence of the title up and running by coming through the divisions/colleges section of the competition and now it’s a case of waiting for things to resume again later on in the season.

However, team boss Fergal Condon and the rest of his management team will try to ensure that the focus will remain on the task when the time comes.

Imokilly selectors Ciaran Cronin, Jimmy Smiddy, Derek Barrett, Fergal Condon, manager, and Sean Harnedy. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Imokilly selectors Ciaran Cronin, Jimmy Smiddy, Derek Barrett, Fergal Condon, manager, and Sean Harnedy. Picture: Denis Minihane.

He knows full well that there are a number of teams out there hell-bent on destroying their three-in-a-row ambitions.

“There are a couple of good teams out there, you can’t get too cocky. You just take the next game whatever that will be, rather than three or four games on the trot.

“We are well capable of winning but we would have to play very well again. You could be gone in two seconds.

“It is a two-pronged approach. The reality is we are probably the longest team in the country undefeated in senior hurling so it is something we are proud of. We have to remind the players they have achieved something as well.

“You also have to remind the players it could be taken off you. We nearly lost it last year to Newcestown.

“That gave us the edge to win the county because the players made their minds up that wouldn’t happen the next day against UCC. And we were very good against Midleton in the final.

“Bottom line is we can only play one game at a time. We want to be as competitive as we have been every other year.

“We were competitive in ’15 and ’16 but we didn’t win it. We are up and running this year but we were slow starting in both games.

“We didn’t score any goals and conceded one. We are working hard in the backroom to keep things going.”

Management are always on the lookout for new talent. They have to manage the break until the third round too, the next while will be spent at club matches.

“Barra Ó Tuama and Timmy Geaney are retired, and Niall O’Leary is gone to UCC. So we have three spaces for fellas to come in.

“We have the players. Keith Dennehy and Shane Óg O’Regan — he is only 19 and a promising hurler and a good physical player — have got game time.

“We always like to see fellas playing well with their clubs. Club hurling will be their primary source of hurling over the coming weeks and hopefully a couple of more fellas might put up their hand. That is what we are doing now watching them with their clubs. We have to be careful to bring in people with the right attitude.

“Competition for places is still very intense.

“Go back to last year’s final, Ger Millerick and Declan Dalton, they were injured coming into the final and we took a brave move to play without them.

“You see their performances now. Ger Millerick told me he doesn’t want to give the jersey to anybody. They love playing. I don’t know when we last played the same team. We move it around. Fellas know that.

“We moved outside of Cork the last two years playing matches and it has helped us a pile experiencing different traditions of hurling and different styles of play. We will get a few good matches during the summer. Looking forward to all of that.

“We will know by the end of April how we are fixed. We will definitely play a game or two in May, June and July. Six or seven games.

“By the time August comes, half of the clubs in our catchment might be in back door, they are not all going to win their first rounds.

“They are under pressure then to win their second game. You get your panel and you progress from there.

“Then it depends on how Cork go and the U20s as well.

“You are watching all that and we want fellas to be heavily involved in all that. So we pull back on those lads.

“That is the beauty of the depth of the panel, we can bring lads in and give them good match time. You always find one or two players. That is what we try to do and will keep doing.”

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