JOHN Meyler is ready to embrace the challenge of one of the most high-profile jobs in hurling.
Speaking to the Evening Echo on Thursday night, the Wexford native and adopted Leesider is excited by the prospect of leading the Rebels for the next two seasons.
“Well naturally I am delighted and it’s a great honour but there is plenty of hard work ahead of me,” said the 1986 All-Ireland winner.
“I also realise and fully understand what is ahead of us. It is, of course, exciting but very challenging.
“Kieran (Kingston) did a fantastic job introducing new young players and going on to win the Munster championship, getting to the All-Ireland semi-final, so there is a challenge and an expectancy to carry on that in the new year and that really is our focus for next year,” said a very determined Meyler, who in 1993 led Kerry to a Munster senior hurling championship win over Waterford and returned to win a Christy Ring Cup with them in 2011.
His recent work with Cork development squads and the U21 team last year, doubling up with his role as senior selector, means he is aware of the young talent that is around the county.
“Outside of the players that made the breakthrough into the senior squad last year there are other exciting players like Robbie O’Flynn, Sean O’Donoghue and Darren Brown. Hopefully, please God, they can step up like Mark Coleman, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Shane Kingston did last season. Really we are looking for another two or three players to step up and with the new format you are going to need extra players and there will be an extra workload on players with matches every weekend.”
Cork will face all four Munster counties in next summer’s new round-robin format for the provincial series.
“Yes, of course, it exciting and it’s challenging with payers playing four Sundays out of the five in championship action. There will be limited training and a lot of recovery on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday so a big squad will be needed for those matches and to cover injuries.
“Last year you had a match in the first round against All-Ireland champions Tipperary and then you had Waterford four weeks later, so players could come down from the highs of beating Tipperary and relax and recover that will not happen next year. Everybody will have to be at a certain level of performance week in week out.
“The four-match group format is exciting for the supporters with a new stadium here in Cork and two championship matches with Clare and Limerick to look forward to,” added Meyler, who will combine his new role with his day job as a lecturer in CIT. First up is assembling his backroom team.
“Well, of course, I have the backroom team or management team whatever you want to call it, in my head, as it is critical to inter-county management today. Your trainers, coaches, masseurs, the physios, doctors, administrators, logistics... all are vital to a successful county team.
“You just have to look at the big numbers involved behind the scenes with Dublin footballers, they all play their part. It’s no longer just about the team manager.”
Does he feel pressure taking over a Cork team that are Munster champions after a very good season in 2017?
“There is massive pressure in Cork this time last year before we played Tipperary in the championship, the public were looking for a performance and they got it. Then against Waterford, they were looking for another big performance and then in the final against Clare you were expected to win.
“There is an expectancy now carried over from last August, to rectify the last 15 minutes against Waterford and go one step further and reach an All-Ireland final which is the ultimate aim.”
It has been a great few weeks for the sporting Meyler family from the Rochestown Road, with John’s son David leading the Republic of Ireland to two World Cup Group wins as captain against Moldova and Wales.
“We are delighted for David but I think the important thing is that Ireland have qualified for the two playoff games with Denmark in November and that is a huge challenge for Martin O’Neill and Roy now. David played his part, but so did all the other lads.”