NEW Cork hurling management teams will be put in place at minor and U20 shortly, but it won't be easy to replicate the success of the outgoing set-ups.
As expected U20 boss Pat Ryan and minor manager Noel Furlong depart their positions after a hugely successful season that saw Cork land three All-Irelands, including the delayed 2020 U20 decider. The stakes couldn't have been higher, given the format was knockout due to Covid and the pressure was on for Cork to end long waits for the top prizes in both grades.
Ryan and his U20 selectors had a short turnaround from beating Dublin in the All-Ireland final with one panel to facing Tipperary in the Munster semi with another, and were without marquee forwards Shane Barrett and Alan Connolly due to their championships appearances at senior level, yet rose to the challenge with aplomb.
At minor, Furlong and his backroom had an exceptionally talented crop at their disposal, dominant at U14 and U15 in development squad tournaments, but had to cope with the pressure that came with that as well as nurturing the potential in the panel. Ultimately, they were dominant in all their matches, overwhelming their Munster opponents and Galway in the All-Ireland.
O'Mahony was a selector with Ryan and has spearheaded Christians' emergence as a force in the Harty Cup.
Donal Óg Cusack could also be in the mix, having served as minor manager in 2020 before making way for Furlong, who offered continuity as he had been over this season's U17s at U15 and U16.
We can expect the roles to be filled in the next week or so, given schools hurling competitions throw-in next week at U16.5 level, with the Harty Cup from early November.
They take on even more importance than before given the fractured preparation in Cork Development Squad in the past two years due to the pandemic.
A Cork GAA statement read: "Cork GAA wishes to confirm that Pat Ryan has confirmed to the County Executive his intention to step down as manager of the Cork U20 Hurling team.
"The Sarsfields club man was appointed manager for a two-year term in October 2019 and led the group to two successive Munster and All Ireland titles in 2020 and 2021.
"Chairperson Marc Sheehan said: “We wish to express our sincere thanks to Pat and his team for their skilled stewardship of this group throughout a difficult period, considering the effects of the Covid -19 pandemic. We have no doubt that all will have a significant part to play in Cork Hurling at all levels in the future.”
"CEO Kevin O’Donovan paid tribute to the outstanding backroom team assembled by Pat, most notably his selectors, Donal O’Mahony, Fergal Condon, Wayne Sherlock and Brendan Coleman: “Pat’s ability to build such an impressive team both on and off the field will stand us in good stead and we look forward to the future development of all involved over the coming years.”
"Meanwhile, Cork minor manager Noel Furlong of Carrigtwohill has also completed his term with All-Ireland and Munster success having guided the current crop through the ranks from U15 level.
"Chairperson Marc Sheehan expressed his thanks for years of service at development squad and minor level: “Noel’s vision in developing this group over a significant period came to bear in a series of outstanding performances throughout this year’s championship, all of which bodes well for their progression to the older groups in future.”
"CEO Kevin O’Donovan, again thanked the outgoing backroom team, in particular Noel’s selectors, namely, Niall McCarthy, David Dorgan, Ger O’Regan and Wesley O’Brien.
"A process to appoint successors at both Minor and U20 Hurling is now well underway, with announcements likely to follow in the near future."