Minor coach ready to help Rebels end major drought

Minor coach ready to help Rebels end major drought
Cork manager Denis Ring celebrates with John Dwyer and Frank Murphy. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

SIXTEEN long years have passed since an All-Ireland minor hurling title wended its way to Leeside but there is cautious optimism around the camp that the lengthy wait might be about to end next Sunday against Galway.

Team coach Johnny Dwyer from Ballincollig has put in a huge amount of work with the squad and he believes that everything is now in readiness for the final match of a long campaign.

Reflecting on the season thus far, Dwyer, a minor winner himself back in 1995, believes the two games with Tipperary, particularly the drawn encounter in Thurles, made the team into what it is now, one with very strong credentials heading for Croke Park next Sunday.

“We started off with a good win over Waterford, we felt that we were right going into that match because we had a lot done in terms of strength and conditioning and everything else. The game against Tipperary was the big one, that was the one that we had targeted since we started out.

“We had fallen down at that stage of the season in recent times, the semi-final stage. We knew that if we got past Tipp the whole year would open up for us.

“We knew too that Tipp had an outstanding team, players from a strong colleges background and I suppose you could say that we did get out of jail the first night with that last goal from the free by Evan Sheehan.’’

Cork, in front of a massive audience, came through the replay, winning by four points on a scoreline of 2-23 to 2-19 and Dwyer believes that win was the springboard for what has transpired since.

“Páirc Uí Rinn that night was extra-special because of the huge attendance and the support that we had. I just could not believe it when we came out on to the pitch, the four sides of the ground were full and I believe the confidence we got from that game has really stood to us since.

“The Munster final win over Clare ensured that we’d be in an All-Ireland semi-final at the very least and it was great that day in Thurles to see the lads express themselves so well and play to their full potential, that was very satisfying from our viewpoint.’’

Cork secured their final place against Galway as a result of the win over Dublin on a day that, according to the team coach, they did not play particularly well at different stages.

“We were not completely happy with our preparations going into that game, there were things going on outside that was no fault of anybody. A lot of people said we’d beat Dublin easy, we never thought that ourselves but we kind of played that way.

“We were not fully tuned in and we did get a huge fright. But we got there and that is what semi-finals are about, getting the job done. I suppose a good thing for us is that we have plenty to improve on. If went in there after the Clare game it might have been said that we were world beaters.

“That’s not the case and I believe the occasion against Dublin got to us a bit but coming out on the right side with a win after a game like that is a good way to be going into a final. We have worked hard in training since, the attitude of the players has been great and even tonight, (last Friday night) the players were hopping off the ground.

“They are raring to go and we are all very determined to bring this title back to Cork.’’

Cork have played five games to reach the final as against just two for Galway, so does that make them the more battle hardened unit?

“I think that Galway coming in later than ourselves is to their advantage. We had to peak very early in the season against Tipperary to get that win.

“We had a bit of a dip against Dublin but I believe we are coming right again. Yes, we are probably more battle hardened than them but they showed really well against a very good Kilkenny team.

“I would say one of the most pleasing aspects from our viewpoint was that any time when the gun was put to our head we have been able to respond, that was especially the case against Tipp.

“Against Dublin when we were not at our best we still managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over.’’

Returning to that Tipperary drawn encounter, he believed the last gasp goal secured by Evan Sheehan spoke volumes for the type of player that he is.

“Evan had not been playing at his best before that, we had taken him off but we knew that if we needed somebody in a situation like that, he was the player. He had just come back in and to have the confidence to drill that goal showed the type of guy that he is.

“It wasn’t a penalty, it was a 20 metre free and they had lined the goal but he just clung it and that shot saved our whole season.’’

Galway, through the involvement of their senior team, will have the bulk of the support on Sunday and that is something that this Cork team must cope with.

“That’s true. If Galway get a score there will be a massive roar as against what we’ll get for our scores. But all we can do is influence what goes on inside the white lines, the crowd can’t get scores and we need do is get our side of things right.”

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