Former Cork hurling manager John Meyler will co-ordinate Rebel Óg development squads at U15 level this year, giving a strong likelihood that he will manage the county minor side in 2024.
Young hopefuls have come together for regional squad training, with Donal Mulcahy (Newtownshandrum), Vincent Hurley (Courcey Rovers), Pat Walsh (Midleton) and Pádraig O’Sullivan involved in overseeing those panels while Meyler heads up the whole operation.
In recent times, Cork have looked to establish a pathway for coaches as well as players, with management teams travelling up through the age-grades with their squads. Last year’s All-Ireland minor-winning manager Noel Furlong had originally been appointed as U16 manager in October 2019 while his successor Paudie Murray was similarly involved with development squads. Kieran Murphy will head up the U16s for this year and the Sarsfields man is pleased with the backroom team involved with him, featuring Seán Óg Ó hAilpín, Martin Coleman, Niall O’Halloran and Dave Long.
“Seán Óg is someone who has done it at the highest level,” he says.
“He’s doing fantastic work with Na Piarsaigh at the moment, he was involved with their U16 county-winning team last year and he’s had success with them at minor level.
“It’s great to have someone like that and Martin Coleman is another excellent coach. He’s been a GDA and now he’s deputy principal in Kinsale, so he’s used to dealing with young lads, too.
“Niall O’Halloran, then, he’s won county championships as a coach with Bandon and Éire Óg as well as doing great work inside in MTU. Dave Long is also with us, he was involved with the minors as well a few years ago.
“It’s a good group and we have guys who are working with the regions at the moment. You have James Nyhan, Colman O’Reilly, Garry Gray, Pádraig O’Sullivan and Ger Dinan all doing great work, co-ordinating all of that, so we’re lucky to have fellas like that.”
While there is an eye on the 2023 minor campaign and whittling down the squad for that, right now the intention is to ensure that the net is spread as wide as it can be.
“They’ll work in the regions and the GDAs have been co-ordinating that and doing a great job,” Murphy says.
“In March then we’ll narrow it down from 120 players down to 48, more of a central group.
“There’ll be two U16s teams, as such, this year. There’ll be competitions in July and August for those guys and it’s just about developing as many players as you can this year and then narrowing it down even further then next year for the minors.”
The clue is in the name with development squads rather than the focus baldly being on picking up silverware. To that end, players are shown the first steps in in building themselves up to the levels needed to make an impact at inter-county level. Murphy knows how important the building blocks are.
“Eoin Dorgan is going to be involved with on the high-performance side,” he says.
“It’s about introducing the lads to good habits and integrating them with players from the other divisions and seeing how fellas react to that.
“Obviously, you’d like to be winning any tournaments that you enter but the real focus is on developing players and educating them around hydration and preparation, just getting the strength and conditioning up and running.”
Since his retirement after a career that saw him won four Cork SHC medals with Sarsfields, Murphy has been building his coaching profile. He was involved with Meyler at U21 and senior level with Cork before guiding the Sars second team to the county IAHC semi-final in 2020, only losing to Éire Óg on penalties.
Last year, he was in charge of Waterford’s Abbeyside, taking them to a county senior quarter-final. The Suirside experience was one he was delighted to immerse himself in.
“It was great, to be honest,” he says.
“It was an eye-opener. There’s a different approach and a different style of hurling down there and it took me a while to get used to it.
“It was great, Abbeyside is a fantastic club with great people involved and I really enjoyed it. It opens you up to give you the view from other counties and how they approach it and set up.”