ON the pitch, Cork hurling selector Diarmuid O’Sullivan knew how to mind himself.
Now, as well as helping to guide the Rebels’ fortunes, he’s focused on making sure that energy drink MYND can make an impact. Along with former rugby star Alan Quinlan and Cork footballer Brian Hurley, the Cloyne man is involved in the new enterprise and is looking forward to helping it get off the ground.
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“This is designed for the health and wellness area, which is really growing,” he says.
“It’s a functional beverage, designed to help people in their day-to-day lives. There are sportspeople involved but it’s not solely designed for sport. It’ll help your recovery after a session but it’s for all walks of life to help you unwind and chill. That’s what the CBD factor brings.
“We’ve put a lot of work into this and it’s not a rushed decision, right down to the flavourings. We believe we have a very good product – it’s gluten-free, there are no GMOs and it’s plant-based.
“It’s a prospect we’re very excited about. It has started well and we’re going to work hard to get it out there.”
However, of more immediate import is the commencement of the Allianz Hurling League, with Cork welcoming Waterford to Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday at 3.45pm. It’s an opportunity that O’Sullivan is making sure not to take for granted.
Kieran Kingston’s come into 2021 after a disjointed 2020, with an inconsistent league campaign before the impact of Covid-19 and a three-game championship campaign with losses to Waterford and Tipperary sandwiching a win over Dublin.
This time, the fixture list is compacted, meaning that form will have to be found quickly. In addition, Cork have had quite a bit of player-churn, so integrating the newer members of the panel will be key.
“In terms of the league itself, I think it’s very big for us,” O’Sullivan says.
“We need games – the question was asked whether we wanted three league games or five but we always felt that the more games we could get, the better it would be for us as a squad and for the development of the squad.
“In that sense, the league has become very important to us.”
While the winter involved Zoom calls and players working in isolation, O’Sullivan has been impressed with the work done, allowing the panel to get straight down to hard work when they were allowed to convene on April 19.
“To be fair, our lads have worked extremely hard and extremely diligently over the winter on the programmes they had been given,” he says, “so I want to compliment them on the condition they have come back in.
“There are some lads in the squad who we never met until three weeks ago but they’ve come in in good shape. Having 35 lads like that allows us to work on our hurling and other aspects of the game.”
There is at least the consolation of every team starting from the same point, unlike the 2020 championship, when a lack of preparation-time was costly for Cork.
“I think, if you want to play the modern game, you have to be fit and strong enough,” O’Sullivan says.
“We weren’t at that level that year, we weren’t at the level of other teams, due to the nature of getting lads back later after the county championships.
“Whereas we had three weeks to prepare for Waterford, other counties had six weeks to prepare for their games, allowing them to work on the physical fitness and then implement the hurling work. We were caught a bit behind the eight-ball on that.
“The lads have definitely addressed the fitness and strength over the winter. The next step for us a management team and coaching team is, every night we go training, to look for ways to improve the guys and ourselves as much as the players.”