LIFE is good these days for Damien Cahalane.
He has just opened a new business on Hanover Street, off Cork’s Washington Street, Cahalane’s. He’s now the undisputed number one full-back on the Cork senior hurling team. And there’s another Munster final to look forward to next Sunday when Clare come out of the opposite corner again.
Throw in the fact that there is a club championship in both codes to be contested with Castlehaven and St Finbarr’s when Cork’s season finishes and it’s very much a case of busy times indeed for the young man.
“We started out at the outset of the campaign and the aim was to qualify out of Munster and ensure that we were in the top three. We finished top of the group and got ourselves into a Munster final and that was an added bonus. But, that’s done now and it won’t really matter if we don’t get a performance on Sunday against Clare.’’
It has certainly been a hectic schedule over the past number of weeks, four searching tests against the rest of the Munster teams.
“It has been very taxing and thrown into the middle of it fellows have work and everything else and the recovery time isn’t long. You are not a professional athlete but you must try your best to prepare as such but with work and everything else in life on the side it does not really allow for that.
“But I do think fellas look after themselves as best they can and if they didn’t I think you would have seen a complete collapse in the third or fourth game. But it’s tough but fellas would still be happier playing games every week than training."
He admits that the challenges involved with the recent round-robin series in the province were many and recovering from week to week was primary.
“I think the most challenging aspect of the whole thing was physical recovery. You are coming out of week one with a knock, week two with a knock and then you are going into the third game and you are still not recovered from the knock you took in week one so it’s a short turnaround.
“But, as I said, fellows are looking after themselves and trying to get the bodies right.’’
This Sunday Cork are facing up to a team that they have already encountered in the same championship, something that would not have been the case before as far as the province goes.
“I don’t think the first match against Clare has any relevance now. We knew going into the first match against them that we were going to have to bring our ‘A’ game to get a performance and even at that you are still not guaranteed to get a result.
“The next day and, obviously, they have improved in the meantime with big wins over Tipperary and Limerick so we are going to have to go above and beyond what we brought with us the first day. It’s a whole new game, a game on its own merit and we must try and get the performance that will be needed the next day.’’
Clare’s reinvention after that opening day loss to Cork has certainly made people sit up and take notice and he’s under no illusions about the size of the task that now awaits.
“I think the huge thing for them and you could see that in the last two games was their confidence.
“They seem to be very confident in what they are doing, they made one or two changes, nothing major and they had one or two that came back from injury as well.
“The main thing now is that they are playing with confidence."
Clare haven’t been successful in the championship arena against Sunday’s opponents since 2013 and they have not moved on as significantly as many had envisaged since.
“Look, every time you go out and play Clare you must be at your best to beat them because they have some fantastic hurlers. But we don’t concentrate too much on the opposition anyway and all we can do is concentrate on our own game as much as we can and give a good account of ourselves.
“We prepare in training for every possibility and whether it’s Clare. Limerick, Waterford, whatever, you are going to do that.
“Thankfully, it worked the last day and in last year’s final but they could throw something entirely different at us next Sunday but, hopefully, it will be something that we have prepared for in training.’’
And what about research on players that he is likely to come up against during the course of a game.
“At this stage, you would have marked a good few of them anyway but we have people working on the background as well doing video analysis and stuff like that. For us a lot of the time it’s trying to limit the man you are marking and try to keep the ball out of his hands."
One of those players is John Conlon.
“Ya, I would have marked him before, he’s going well, he’s a strong guy but, obviously, they could be throwing anybody in there the next day And the new business venture that he has entered into?
“It’s going very well, we are open a few weeks and we have great support from the Cork public.
“Mostly, I am kind of managing the place but we have good staff inside that make sure that I can still live out my passion of playing for Cork hurling and that’s priority at the moment with the Munster final coming up."