CORK’S first Munster title since 2008 is proof the development squad system on Leeside is working.
That’s the opinion of Rebel coach John Dwyer, who feels the minors’ provincial success is on the back of a push underage, with Cork and at club level.
“The development squad work is fantastic, but I’ll take it further down," said the minor coach, who is looking forward to the All-Ireland semi-final against Dublin this Sunday. "Being involved in my own club and as a schools coach, and the amount of work going into underage hurling, in general, is incredible. You go to U7s and U8s games or training and there’s great stuff being done across the county.
“Some people might knock development squads and they’re entitled to their opinions, but I see the benefit of it. It helps when players are familiar with what’s expected and each other, though obviously there are always late developers.
“There’s ferocious work going on across the board. The guys who are interested in driving Cork hurling on, rather than winning the competitions, are invaluable.
“That’s our job too, getting fellas to play at speed in an environment that will carry through to senior. Winning is fantastic but it’s not everything.”
In that regard, Dwyer admits there was a sense of pride watching Mark Coleman, Luke Meade, Shane Kingston and Darragh Fitzgibbon, along with the young guns on the extended panel, ripping it up in Thurles. And that’s a feeling anyone who works with those who become good enough to graduate to the top with Cork can share in.
“We’re enjoying watching the four or five lads playing now at senior even though we didn’t win anything with them. It’s same if you’ve helped any of these minors when they were with their clubs, they should be enjoying these victories.”
The Ballincollig native concedes there were regrets in his first three seasons with the Cork minors. While Limerick were too strong in 2014 – and they still ran them close – they were good enough to make the Munster final in 2015 and coughed up a decent lead against Tipp last season.
“We put ourselves in a good position against Tipp last year (1-12 to 0-9 up) but they just steamrolled us and we could have gone on another two hours and we still wouldn’t have beaten them. It was hard to take in a sense because you don’t want to see a team backing down. We probably didn’t die with our boots on.
“Definitely 2015 was a very good team and even with Shane injured – and I still have nightmares about the injury he had – we had the chances to finish off Limerick and we couldn’t. It was one that got away, we have to admit that. Some people lambasted us after and we just had to accept that.”