Tom Kenny on what Donal O'Grady will add to the Cork hurling set-up

St Finbarr's club man will hone the Rebels' defensive skills
Tom Kenny on what Donal O'Grady will add to the Cork hurling set-up

Flashback: Donal O'Grady with Tom Kenny, and Ben O'Connor at the Cork GAA Press Day at Jurys Hotel in 2004. Picture: Maurice O'Mahony

FORMER Cork star Tom Kenny has welcomed the addition of Donal O’Grady to the Rebels’ backroom team for the coming season.

O’Grady, who managed Cork – with Kenny on the team – to win the All-Ireland in 2004 as well as being a selector for the 1986 Liam MacCarthy win, has been enlisted by manager Kieran Kingston work on coaching and analysis.

Cork haven’t won the All-Ireland since 2005, the year after O’Grady departed the managerial role, while the St Finbarr’s man had stints with Limerick in the interim and was most recently involved with Barrs underage sides.

Kenny believes that the advice can impart has a timeless quality to it.

“He’s been with numerous clubs and anywhere he has gone, he has generally had success in terms of winning championships or bringing them to a level from there they could push on,” he says.

“He is a constant in terms of having gone through a few decades of being involved with teams but people still regard him highly enough that he’s asked to become involved in set-ups.

“Kieran clearly regards him highly in terms of his ways, his means, his methods and his ideas on the game, which are a constant. 

The skills such as hooking, blocking, tackling and positional play haven’t changed in terms of how they’re done. Hooking and blocking are still the same now as they were 30 or 40 years ago.

“I remember making my league debut – here I was, coming from a small club to play for Cork against Tipperary in Thurles and I was thinking it was a big deal. He said to me, ‘All I want you to do at wing-back is stop the ball in the air and, if it’s on the ground, move it on. If you can pick it and move it, do; if you can’t, play it on to midfield.’

“I’d say that happened five or six times during the game – I reckon if you watched back the video, it’s all I did – and I was coming off kind of disappointed but he came over and said, ‘Excellent, well done, that’s what we wanted you to do.’

“Those skills are still as relevant now as they were back then and he’ll improve the defensive qualities of the players that are there and get them to understand how A, B and C link together, as opposed to just playing your own position.”

Shane Barrett is a very highly-rated young Cork hurler Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo
Shane Barrett is a very highly-rated young Cork hurler Picture: INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

With a lot of young talent on Leeside, Kenny feels that O’Grady’s input can be invaluable in it being harnessed.

“If these can be moulded into a proper team at senior level, then they do have all of the ingredients there to go on and become winners,” he says.

“You see Shane Barrett there with Blarney the last couple of seasons, I think he’s a fantastic prospect, so is Alan Connolly from Blackrock.

“That’s the other side of it – it’s not just the defenders that need to work on hooking, blocking and tackling. If you can instil it into the forwards to do it so the ball isn’t going back the field, that’s a benefit, too.”

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