PLAYER development, rather than success at all costs, is the key aim for new Cork minor hurling manager Paudie Murray.
Murray was confirmed as successor to Noel Furlong – who this year guided the county to a first minor All-Ireland since 2001 – earlier this month, moving up with the U16 development squad of which he was co-ordinator.
With Cork operating on a regional basis up to U16, it means that Murray and his management team of his brother Kevin, Declan Fitzgerald and Fergal McCormack will have to reduce numbers for minor but the new boss is keen to ensure that the net is cast wide.
“We kept four regions going,” he says, “normally, at U15 you reduce it down to approximately 60 players but we’ve kept that open.
“We want to keep the net wide and I think the key part here is that U17 is really about development.
“They’re the two things that would be our objectives, as such. We’ve kept it large as a group because guys, particularly at 16 years of age, develop differently. Some develop quicker than others – we’ve all come across the player at 16 years of age that may not be of great standard but, within two years, is a different person.
“That’s something that we’d be very conscious of. At the moment, we’re working away and, hopefully in the next two or three weeks, we’ll have it reduced down.”
Murray had been Cork camogie manager since 2012, leading the county to four All-Ireland senior titles as well as one at intermediate level. It’s his first time in charge of a male side since a stint as Dohenys manager before the camogie role – is there much of a difference in that regard?
“There are a couple of ways of looking at it,” he says.
“From a coaching point of view, Kevin would answer that more than me as I’ve considered myself to be a coach of any great quality.
“From a management point of view, is there a difference? The answer is that, yes, there’s no question that there is.
“In terms of player-management, certainly there’s a difference there. Managing inter-county senior camogie, I actually think that, from a tactical point of view, it’s more tactical than hurling.
“Certainly, I think I would have been exposed to more of the tactical side of things over the last five or six years than what I might have been in a men’s environment.”
Dealing with teenagers is also a different kettle of fish, but Murray doesn’t feel as if he’s going into the role blind.
“I’ve been dealing with this group of lads for the last 12 months, maybe more,” he says.
“I’ve kids myself, I’ve been helping out with my brother above in the Barrs with a couple of underage teams over the last number of years.
“It’s not something that’s new to me, but I’m a co-ordinator as such. Declan Fitzgerald has been involved in numerous development squads here in Cork and he’s a teacher, he was involved with Pat Ryan last year in the U20s.
“Kevin, my brother, would have done huge underage work in the work and has been very successful there. If you look at my backroom team, they all have vast experience in dealing with underage players.”
An advantage in terms of player development is that the Munster championship is set to revert to the round-robin basis that operated in 2018 and 2019 and this is something that Murray welcomes.
“My understanding is that it is and we’ll know for certain later on this month,” he says.
“That is important. You’d hope that there would be fewer restrictions next year with Covid and all that and that they have a good experience.”