Harnedy: Underage work is paying off now at all levels in Rebel county

Harnedy: Underage work is paying off now at all levels in Rebel county
Seamus Harnedy of Cork and Paul Morris of Wexford. Picture: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

WHATEVER about the league, Cork hurling received a huge boost last weekend when Christians and Midleton CBS both got through to the Harty Cup final.

In addition to CBC versus Midleton in mid-February, Hamilton High School and Rochestown College will contest the Munster B decider, a further reflection of the terrific underage work undertaken in recent years. Cork senior captain Seamus Harnedy, speaking ahead of the visit of Wexford to the Páirc on Sunday, knows all about those efforts.

After a period working with AIB following his graduation from UCC, Harnedy is retraining as a teacher. Last year he was in Christians, this time it’s Midleton. Outside the classroom, he’s involved with the young age-groups and as a forwards coach for the Harty crew.

Reuben Halloran is outnumbered by Midleton CBS's Jack McGann, Cormac O'Brien, Ciaran Joyce and Dylan Hogan. Picture: Sean Byrne
Reuben Halloran is outnumbered by Midleton CBS's Jack McGann, Cormac O'Brien, Ciaran Joyce and Dylan Hogan. Picture: Sean Byrne

“Going back to 2006 it was Midleton won it the last time and there’s been an underage revamp since, with the introduction of Rebel Óg and so on and it’s finally paying a dividend now with the schools,” said Harnedy. “St Colman’s were in the quarter-final this year and a final a couple of years ago.

“Paudie O’Sullivan, Brian Lawton, Luke O’Farrell and those lads were involved in 2006, I was in school in Youghal at the time, but they’d a fine team and they all went on to play a lot of hurling. Hopefully these two groups can do the same now, whoever wins.”

Four Leeside schools have lost finals this decade, Charleville CBS in 2011, Rochestown in 2015, Colman’s two years ago and Midleton last season. Now a 13-year gap will be bridged. Cork selector Donal O’Mahony is a driving force in CBC, while Éamonn O’Neill heads up the committed crew in CBS.

“Donie and the lads are doing incredible work in Christians and you’ve Éamonn O’Neill and the lads in Midleton as well. I thoroughly enjoy being involved helping young players and giving something back.

“It would be great to see the final at Páirc Uí Rinn or CIT, somewhere with a great atmosphere because the brilliant players on both sides deserve that.”

Harnedy is recovering from a back injury which saw him miss the defeat to Kilkenny last Sunday. With no relegation threat as Divisions 1A and 1B will be split evenly in 2020, there is less pressure this spring but the 28-year-old agrees developing players ahead of championship is still vital.

“You see with us the likes of Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Robbie O’Flynn, Luke Meade and so on and how the league served them very well. John (Meyler) has said publicly we need to unearth a few more players so it’s a great opportunity for the young lads being introduced to the squad.

Aidan Walsh of Cork in action against Paddy Deegan of Kilkenny. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Aidan Walsh of Cork in action against Paddy Deegan of Kilkenny. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

“It’s the same for lads coming back to the panel like (Stephen) McDonnell, Cormac Murphy and Walshie. Cormac put up his hand and threw over four great points last weekend.

“I got my opportunity in the league and championship because of injuries so there are opportunities for lads there now at the moment. This is time to find out whether you can perform at this level.

“John said it last week that it will take time to get a bit of cohesion because some of the lads were away a few years and the Fitzgibbon Cup at the moment too. Darragh Fitzgibbon is involved in the club championship with Charleville as well.”

As well as the comeback kids, Cork have a clutch of U21 graduates, with Declan Dalton starting against the Cats.

“I played with Declan with Imokilly and he’s from a neighbouring club in Fr O’Neill’s and we all know the attributes he brings. He worked very hard against Kilkenny and got a great sideline as well but he’s still young and there’s a learning curve. He certainly has the potential to add a lot to Cork after two fantastic U21 campaigns.”

Limerick goalkeeper Nicky Quaid makes a save from Seamus Harnedy. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Limerick goalkeeper Nicky Quaid makes a save from Seamus Harnedy. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Most Cork fans aren’t too bothered about the league after going so close to Limerick last summer. We’ve had our fill of seeing pictures of their keeper Nickie Quaid’s late wonder-save from Harnedy though.

“Absolutely!” he laughed in agreement. “But sure look in fairness to him it was a fantastic save and that’s sport, those small margins. Hopefully we can go about rectifying it this year.”

Cork's Seamus Harnedy goes clear to hit the net against Clare. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie
Cork's Seamus Harnedy goes clear to hit the net against Clare. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

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