Cork minor hurlers unchanged with Noel Furlong looking for more of the same

Rebels face Munster champions Limerick after big quarter-final triumph against Clare
Cork minor hurlers unchanged with Noel Furlong looking for more of the same

James Dwyer of Cork shoots for a point during the Electric Ireland Munster MHC quarter-final against Clare Clare in Semple Stadium two weeks ago. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Cork have named an unchanged starting 15 for Tuesday night’s Electric Ireland Munster MHC semi-final against Limerick in Thurles (7.30pm).

Having enjoyed a 40-point win over Clare at the same venue a fortnight ago, it’s little surprise that manager Noel Furlong and his backroom team have opted to go with the same starting side for the clash with the Shannonsiders, who can call upon seven of the panel which reached the 2020 All-Ireland semi-final earlier this month. While pleased with the win, the focus has been fully reset.

“The key thing for us going into the Clare game was that it was knockout and we had to make sure that we were 100 percent ready for it,” Furlong says.

“To a degree, we knew very little about Clare as well. Going into Limerick, we’re getting ready for a completely different challenge and all you need to do is look at eight months ago, Cork lost heavily to Limerick in a Munster semi-final, which was the same game.

“Limerick have eight players still left over from that panel – the goalkeeper Tomás Lynch and wing-forward Shane O’Brien actually won 2020 All-Stars – and I don’t think our lads need to be in any way told about the challenge which is coming. We met the morning after the Clare game, boxed that off and the full focus turned to the Limerick match.

“The full focus and application since then have been fantastic. We can see already that guys are in the zone and they know that, for us to progress, we need to be at full tilt.”

Last December, Cork lost by 2-19 to 0-13 in Semple Stadium and there are some survivors from that loss such as Ben O’Connor, Kevin Lyons, James Dwyer, Tadhg O’Connell, Eoin O’Leary, Jack Leahy and William Buckley. Furlong feels that, while the loss was painful, it might have also been instructional.

“It showed them the level that you need to get to to be able to compete at semi-final and final stage,” he says.

“It was a great eye-opener for those lads and they knew how they needed to compare, to make sure going in against Limerick that we’re going to give a performance that we’re all happy with.”

The performance against Clare was close to a complete one, with the effort levels as high near the end as they were at the start. Furlong is pleased with the lack of complacency and now he wants to see the same in a tougher environment.

“They’re an extremely driven bunch,” he says, “very motivated and also there were five subs came on and they all made a really positive impact.

“I think everybody knows that they need to be performing at a high level because there are guys chomping at the bit to try to get on the team.

“All of those things feed into it and there are certain standards that we hold ourselves accountable to – it’s easy to do all of those when you’re winning by 20 points, there’s going to be a completely different test against Limerick and that’s something for the players to look forward to.”

CORK: P O’Sullivan (Fr O’Neills); D O’Sullivan (Ballinhassig), K Lyons (Ballygarvan), J Byrne (Ballinora); J Dwyer (Ballincollig), B O’Connor (St Finbarr’s), T Wilk (Cobh); M Finn (Midleton), C Tobin (Bride Rovers); D Healy (Lisgoold), N Nyhan (Clyda Rovers), T O’Connell (Ballincollig); E O’Leary (Glen Rovers), J Leahy (Dungourney), W Buckley (St Finbarr’s). Subs: D Costine (Cloyne), S Kennedy (St Finbarr's), K Wallace (St Catherine's), J O'Brien (Fermoy), D Cremin (Midleton), O O'Regan (Erin's Own), A Walsh (Bride Rovers), R O'Sullivan (Na Piarsaigh), R Sheahan (Kanturk).

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