Cork hurlers need a clean bill of health this summer to be able to compete

Injuries to experienced hurlers like Colm Spillane and Eoin Cadogan didn't help the Rebel cause in 2020
Cork hurlers need a clean bill of health this summer to be able to compete

A fully fit Colm Spillane will be a huge asset to Cork this year.

AS the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said – the only constant in life is change.

And that certainly can be said about the Cork hurlers this season as the likes of Conor Lehane, Aidan Walsh, Anthony Nash, Stephen McDonnell and Christopher Joyce are not involved this year.

It’s no secret that some opted to go whilst others had the difficult conversation with the management where they were told they weren’t going to be part of the panel this season.

Not easy for a management to have to do but it’s tough on players who have given years of service to Cork and some would argue still have a few left in the tank.

Defensively losing the likes of Nash, McDonnell and Joyce sees a lot of experienced players no longer involved. Some may not have been automatic starters over the last few seasons but have no doubt they were a huge influence in training and would have helped some of the younger players who have come into the set-up.

There are still plenty of talented players there and now is the time for Patrick Collins to get his chance at the number one spot as keeper and he has shown in the few games he has played that he is ready for the step up and become the man to displace.

Defensively a fully fit Colm Spillane will be a big boost for Cork, but one can only wonder could he serve the Rebels further up the pitch. Unfortunately, Covid denied large numbers of supporters the opportunity to see him line out at centre-forward for Castlelyons last season.

He was simply outstanding in that role and tormented defence after defence on their way to the final.

Unfortunately only minutes into the final he got a serious hand injury and it curtailed to a degree his involvement with Cork. Could he switch from defence to attack and bring a new dimension to the side, one that would certainly surprise a few.

Unlikely to happen, but if we are a few points down going into the final few minutes of a championship tie and have nothing to lose it could very well enter the heads of management to try it.

One player who didn’t feature last year through injury was Eoin Cadogan and have no doubt he will only be dying to get going this season.

Douglas' Eoin Cadogan is tackled by Ballyhea's Pa O'Callaghan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Douglas' Eoin Cadogan is tackled by Ballyhea's Pa O'Callaghan. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Yes some will say the years are against him, but it would be hard to find another player in Cork, or indeed other counties, who train as hard and look after themselves in the way he does.

His commitment and passion are very much in abundance and the physicality he brings is something that people have said Cork lack at times. He certainly is one player not to be written off and there are not too many forwards who fancy coming up against him.

Will he fill one of the two ‘problem’ spots for Cork in recent years – full and centre-back – only Kieran Kingston and his fellow selectors know, but he won’t be found wanting if asked to don the jersey.

With the likes of Spillane, Robert Downey, Mark Coleman and Seán O’Donoghue Cork have plenty of defensive options and hopefully, all will stay fit for the year.

If you look at the league table from last year it doesn’t make good reading for Cork, with the stats of played five and won two. But take a further look and you will see that two of the three losses were very tight, one by a point and another by two points.

Not a lot over the course of a hurling game and it shows the small margins there are between winning and losing at this level.

The stats show that Patrick Horgan was Cork’s top scorer in the championship last year. He was also their top scorer in an individual game. Delve further into the stats and go down through the top 10 of scorers in individual games and he appears a couple of more times.

No great surprise here being the free and penalty taker, but there is one worrying factor. The top 10 scorers have more than 10 players, due to a number being on the same score, i.e. three in the number one slot.

And within those 13-14 players mentioned no other Cork player appears. If we can get a few more scores from around the pitch it could very well see the Rebels on the right side of those tight games.

Every year brings new hopes, new dreams but the one thing that is always there are the Rebels’ supporters. Through thick and thin they have been behind them.

Unfortunately, fans won’t be able to attend for now, but with a little luck and if Cork can progress then maybe just maybe the Rebel roar will be back later on this year.

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