New Cork minor football boss will have All-Ireland winner O'Connor as a selector

Donncha O'Connor is joining Michael O'Brien's U17 management team
New Cork minor football boss will have All-Ireland winner O'Connor as a selector

Ballincollig's Michael O'Brien and Jerry Ring at the Andy Scannell Cup. Picture: Des Barry

ALL-IRELAND winners Donncha O'Connor and Niall McCarthy will be involved with the Cork minor teams in 2021.

Ballydesmond's O'Connor, who fired Cork to Sam Maguire in 2010 and lined out last season for his club and Duhallow, will work with football manager Michael O'Brien. O'Connor is following in the footsteps of his former Cork comrade Colm O'Neill, a selector with Keith Ricken when the U20s captured the All-Ireland in 2019.

Donncha O'Connor is tackled by Jonathan Lyne. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE
Donncha O'Connor is tackled by Jonathan Lyne. Picture: Brendan Moran/SPORTSFILE

All-Star hurling forward McCarthy is on board with fellow Carrigtwohill native Noel Furlong, and the 2004-'05 All-Ireland winner has experience in physical preparation having attended UCC to qualify as a PE teacher. McCarthy's ex-Cork team-mates Donal Óg Cusack, Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, Tom Kenny and Kieran 'Fraggie' Murphy were minor selectors last season.

Incoming football boss Michael O'Brien led Ballincollig to a first senior county in 2014 and also had success with the Village's minor and U21 hurling teams. The impressive management team is rounded out by Daniel Cronin (St Mary’s), Gary Sheehan (Carrigtwohill) and Martin O’Brien (Clonakilty).

Sheehan was a powerhouse midfield for years with Na Piarsaigh, and all five were involved with U15 and U16 development squads.

They have been handed a two-year term as they follow on from Bobbie O'Dwyer and his selectors, who guided the Rebels to the All-Ireland in 2019. O'Dwyer was recently appointed at senior level to link up with Ronan McCarthy.

It was announced Furlong would take charge of the 2021 minors back in October 2019, when Kieran Kingston was reappointed as senior bainisteoir. A former Cork dual minor himself, Furlong spearheaded Carrig to a shock county from centre-back in 2011 before coaching Fr O'Neill's to success.

Carrigtwohill's Noel Furlong gets away from Erin's Own's Jack Sheehan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Carrigtwohill's Noel Furlong gets away from Erin's Own's Jack Sheehan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Donal Óg Cusack was minor manager in 2020 when the U17s impressed against Clare before losing to eventual Munster champions Limerick in the provincial semi-final. 

The other selectors are David Dorgan (Fr O’Neill's), Ger O’Regan (St Finbarr’s) and Wesley O'Brien (Carrigaline). O'Brien lectures in Physical Education and Coaching Science at UCC and has experience at Fitzgibbon Cup level.

This group have been handed a one-year stint, having been involved with the age-group since the U15 development squads. 

They'll oversee a talented crop of young hurlers, with Glen Rovers' Eoin O'Leary, St Finbarr's William Buckley and Ben O'Connor and Ballincollig's Tadhg O'Connell and James Dwyer prominent for the minors in 2020 and on the age this season. 

At U14 level Cork collected the Tony Forristal Cup in 2018 and a year later split their panel in half, as opposed to A and B squads, but still won both tournaments on offer.

That's not to place an unrealistic burden on the group, as the record of Tony Forristal Cup champions progressing to minor glory is very poor. Indeed Cork Player of the Match in the Forristal decider Harry Nevin has since switched to soccer full-time, moving to Preston North End.

It's one of the reasons, Cork moved away from prioritising U14 development squads, expanding it out to regional panels in 2019 and 2020.

New Cork chairman Marc Sheehan welcomed the appointment of the new U17 football management team and wished them every success for their term at the helm. He acknowledged the involvement of the new mentors with previous development squad panels. 

He also paid tribute to the work of the most successful outgoing management who achieved great success in this grade and captured the All-Ireland title in fine style against Galway in 2019. 

Furthermore, he wished the U17 hurling management under manager Noel Furlong every success as they continue their progress with this group.

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