“I HAVEN’T come across anyone as committed. If you told him to run up Everest 50 times, he’d do it 100 times.”
For any former Cork hurler to describe Chris Joyce in those terms is serious praise indeed but coming from one of the most dedicated of all time, makes it particularly special.
Granted Seán Óg Ó hAilpín is a club comrade and current coach of his with Piarsaigh, but he believes Joyce is a prime example of a hurler getting back what he’s put in.
“I haven’t seen anyone as professional as him,” said Seán Óg. “Whenever we see him the standard and intensity lifts. He’s the trailblazer and role model in our club now.
“When he did his cruciate two years ago he was living in the club gym and on the pitch doing his rehab. He had a bit of a lull last year when he came back first in terms of the pace and tempo, but he’s better than ever now.”
Ó hAilpín feels the Cork management deserve credit for refining Joyce’s power game in the half-back line, where he’s formed a solid unit with Mark Ellis and Mark Coleman.
“Christopher is so consistent. To survive at that level you must get the balance right. They’ve tweaked his game to deliver ball to the advantage of the forwards. He’s composed, his head is up.”
The former Rebel number seven says Joyce was flagged up from his teens as a future Cork player.
“Seán Guiheen coached his team to the national Féile and he always said Christopher was the best of the new breed. He was drafted into our senior team at 17 and didn’t look out of place. He is from good pedigree with the boxing and it shows.”
Current Piarsaigh minor boss Gearóid Daly was also involved with Joyce and that U14 Féile crop.
“He knows where he came from,” said Daly. “You could see Joycie on his own in the hall over the winter even at that age. He’d go for a puck with anyone around the club now. Everyone looks up to him.”
Club icon Tony O’Sullivan feels Joyce has set the tone for the trio involved with the Cork minors – Daire Connery, Evan Sheehan and Craig Hanafin.
“Chris Joyce is flying and it shows all our young players what you can achieve,” said O’Sullivan. “It’s the same everywhere in Cork though, because it’s all talk about the Cork hurlers at the moment.
“Thurles was amazing for the Munster finals. How the crowd got behind both teams, the amount of them in for the minors, it’s something I’d never seen before and it’s going across all the clubs.
“The style of hurling is getting a reaction from the supporters and then there’s the blend of young and older players. It’s been an incredible summer and I just hope they can all keep it going.”