Paudie Murray pleased with Cork minors' first outing but looking for improvement

Rebels had 23 points to spare on Kerry and face Limerick next Tuesday
Paudie Murray pleased with Cork minors' first outing but looking for improvement

Cork manager Paudie Murray during Tuesday night's Electric Ireland Munster MHC clash against Kerry at Austin Stack Park in Tralee.

Cork minor hurling manager Paudie Murray was satisfied with the young Rebels’ start to their Electric Ireland Munster MHC campaign on Tuesday night but hopes to see an improvement in the coming games.

For the first time in 20 years, Cork are the reigning All-Ireland champions in the grade and they began with a 3-25 to 0-11 win against Kerry at Austin Stack Park in Tralee, the goals coming from Ben Walsh, Timmy Wilk and Adam O’Sullivan.

With the competition being run in two groups of three, Cork can secure top spot and an automatic semi-final place if they win at home to Limerick next Tuesday, but even if they don’t, all counties are guaranteed a quarter-final spot at worst. In terms of a pipe-opener, Murray was pleased.

“I suppose a tally of 3-25, you’d take it on the way down,” he said.

“Conditions weren’t great, the wind was very, very strong. We still have areas to brush up on, but obviously good to get a start like that.

“They obviously elected to play with a very strong wind. I thought that we were comfortable in the first half – one area that we spoke about at half-time was that we were being outdone on the breaking ball, particularly out around the middle of the field and maybe off their puckout a bit.

“Once we brushed up on that, things started to improve.”

The change from U18 to U17 level at minor brings more variables as players have more to go in terms of physical and mental development. While Cork had been expected to beat Kerry, nothing could be taken for granted until they got out on the field.

“We’ve been working on it in training,” Murray said, “but doing it in training and coming out and doing it in an environment like this are two different things.

“I thought we did pretty okay in it; obviously, next week facing Limerick we need to do things quicker and we need to be far more clinical. It’s a good run-out for next week.

“The one thing that people don’t think of is that they still look at minor being 18-year-olds.

“These are 16, 16 and a half – Jayden Casey came in as a sub and he’s underage again next year, he’s probably only 15 years of age.

“It’s a huge learning experience for these guys and we’re not putting any pressure on them. We want them playing for Cork in four or five years’ time, that’s the key thing.”

Helping those players in that ambition will be versatility and the ability to fill different roles. In the second half on Tuesday, Cork switched centre-back Daniel Murnane with midfielder Peter O’Shea while centre-forward Wilk swapped with full-forward James Murray, all with positive results.

“That’s the way the lads would have been training them anyway,” Murray said.

“I think we’d all be firm believers that there would be a need to be very adaptable for the way hurling is played today. Players have to be comfortable in lots of positions.

“Daniel did make a big difference when he went to midfield and Peter did well when he went back centre-back. I think the guys we brought in made a difference as well, which is something that will be important going forward.”

While Kerry never looked like winning the game, they competed well for a lot of the first half and can only benefit from games like this.

“First of all, I’d say obviously they’ve a lot of work done,” Murray said, “because structurally they were very disciplined in their play.

“We’re all for the promotion of hurling and if this helps them along the way then so be it.”

The Kingdom will face Limerick on April 19 as Cork take a break following their two matches. Is Murray happy to be going into next week’s clash with the Shannonsiders having had a game already?

“I suppose there are two ways of looking at it,” he said.

“You can turn around and say that Limerick will have had a good look at us tonight and they can go away and do their homework.

“Personally, I’d probably prefer to have had the game. Coming away from here injury-free was the key because we’re light in certain areas at the moment because of the level of injuries that we have.

“The players out tonight won’t be back for Limerick, they’re more long-term than short-term.”

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