MATTIE Taylor is one of the first names to go on any team sheet for Ronan McCarthy and his selectors.
Taylor has been improving year on year since he first broke into the senior inter-county scene, having never shone as a Cork underage footballer. Perhaps because of his status as a late developer, he never takes his participation for granted and is always a bag of nerves when a team is being announced.
“The day you think and accept that you are a starter is the day you are finished. You must never stop working at your game. I would never put myself down as a starter. I really do dread the night the team is being named.
"The heartbeat goes through the roof. I always fear that I won’t make the team but that is a good thing. It is what drives me, what motivates me, it helps me to train harder and put my best foot forward.”
While Taylor is likely to play a significant role in Cork’s 2021 campaign he knows that it will only happen if he delivers at every session between games.
“You have to deliver in training, simple as that. There are 36 odd lads and every one of them feel they are entitled and good enough for a place but obviously, we can’t all have one at the same time. It is simple around here, if you perform you play – that is the mantra in the group.”
Taylor knows that every time you are selected to play for your county is a special moment and he would be willing to play anywhere for his county, well almost anywhere.
“Well anywhere except in goal. That would be taking it a bit too far.”
He may well have only made his debut in 2017 but the Avondhu man is already one of the elder statesmen of the team – something that seems to have happened in the blink of an eye.
“One minute you are the youngest and three or four years later you become one of the oldest in the panel. The time doesn’t be-long going but it is what it is. When it happens to you it is important that you stand up and help bring the group on as best to can.”
Being one of the senior players Taylor is in the ideal position to assess the differences between the old and the new and the wing-back is full of admiration for those making the breakthrough in recent times.
“The kids that come in at 20 come in with great enthusiasm. They bring great life into the place and a new energy into the group which is very important. The new guys that came in from the U20s and the ones that came in from their clubs have done just that and added significantly to the squad.
“The younger players that come in play with confidence and that is what they have to do. That is what we all have to do at this level – you have to express yourself and if you do that then, your best should come out and you can get your chance to play.”
Next up for Taylor and Cork is Limerick this weekend and Taylor knows just what the Treaty side can do, especially if they are not taken seriously.
“We reviewed their game last week of course, and they are a good side. We respect every opposition. We will prepare for Limerick in the same way that we would prepare for Clare, or whatever team in Munster we would be playing.
Taylor came back into the Cork setup recently after his beloved Mallow fell short in the Senior A final to Éire Óg, a difficult time for one of his club’s most influential performers.
“Losing with Mallow was very disappointing, I suppose it just never clicked for us on the day. I thought coming in at half-time we might be able to come out and get back into it but it just didn’t transpire that way – it is really disappointing – but hopefully when we all get back to it later in the year we can go again and hopefully this may still be our year.”
Taylor will be a key member of Ronan McCarthy’s squad for the upcoming campaign – a solid performer in one of the key attacking/defensive positions on the field.