Cork's Jack Cahalane says decision to opt for U20 hurling a tough one

Rebels begin quest for a third straight All-Ireland next month
Cork's Jack Cahalane says decision to opt for U20 hurling a tough one

Cork U20 hurling vice-captain Jack Cahalane pictured at Croke Park as oneills.com were announced as the sponsors of the All-Ireland U20HC. Picture: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

In terms of a dual-player strike-rate, Jack Cahalane's record of three All-Ireland medals across the last three seasons - one minor football and two U20 hurling - can't be bettered.

However, having lined out in both codes for Cork U20s last year as well as playing football in the McGrath Cup in January, he has opted to focus on hurling at inter-county level for the moment.

While the MTU Cork student wasn't forced into a decision of one over the other, he felt that making a call ultimately served him best.

“I didn’t have to make a choice,” he said at Wednesday's announcement that oneills.com would be sponsoring the competition for the next four years.

“I just felt that, last year, I had played the two and I had been playing every two or three days.

“By the time it came to club season, I didn’t really perform for my clubs, not up to the level that I’d be expecting out of myself.

“I think, hopefully, if I can do well in this year’s championship with the U20s that I’ll still have that bit left in me to go well for my clubs again.

“It was a very tough decision. I know Bobbie [O'Dwyer, U20 football manager] and Ollie [O'Sullivan, coach] and the rest of the management and I won an All-Ireland with them three years ago, so it was never going to be easy to walk away from playing football because I love playing it.

“It was just that I thought was better for myself.

“It isn’t a choice for life, it was a decision for this year. I’m focusing on Cork U20 hurling now for the moment and back then with the clubs and we’ll see what I do next year. If I got the shout for either of the teams, I’d obviously be thrilled and go from there then.”

Cork go into the championship on the back of victories in the last two championships, with a trip to Clare first up on April 13 under a new format which sees two groups of three.

“It’s not all do-or-die at the start,” Cahalane says, “so you get a chance to settle into it.

“Clare and Limerick are playing a week before our first game, so we know going into that that there might be a chance that, if we win, we wouldn’t have to win our second game.

“Definitely, I think the new format will suit us but I think it’s suit everyone in that they won’t have as much pressure riding on a first-round championship game.”

And, while manager Pat Ryan has departed after guiding Cork to the 2020 and 2021, he has been succeeded by Donal O'Mahony, who was coach and selector to those sides. Cahalane feels that such continuity is a bonus.

“We’re getting the same messages in that we have been and it’s the same kind of culture," he says.

"We have a few new fellas – Tom [Kenny] is in and Brendan [Coleman] is stepping up to main coaching role – and it’s going well, in fairness.

“Training has been enjoyable and bringing it to the games is the next thing. There’ll be a bit of pressure on, having won the last two All-Irelands, but Donal has brought a lot of continuity to it while bringing his own new things as well and that has given us a boost.”

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