Cork Masters offers veteran footballers chance to wear Rebel red

Competition for Over 40s was won by Tyrone last year with the campaign starting for 2022 in May
Cork Masters offers veteran footballers chance to wear Rebel red

The Cork Masters Gaelic football team.

GETTING an opportunity to wear a county jersey at the latter stages of your career is the major appeal of the Cork Masters Football team.

For players that are aged 40 years or older, the Cork Masters panel have been in training since early March on Monday nights, initially at the MTU (Munster Technological University) campus in Bishopstown, before recently switching to the UCC Farm in Curraheen.

These veteran Leesiders are relishing the opportunity of pulling on the Rebel geansaí in a meaningful contest and are very eager to give everything they can to the cause.

The Gaelic Football Masters Competition commences this year on May 7 and fixtures will run right through until the month of July. 

The All-Ireland Masters champions from 2021 were Tyrone and they defeated Dublin in the final.

In the Tyrone team were Stephen O’Neill, Ryan McMenamin, Conor Gormley and Ciaran Gourley, who collected Sam Maguire with the Red Hand from 2003, 2005 and 2008.

That shows the calibre of player involved with some of the counties at this level, with the hope being that this competition can grow further over the coming years ahead.

The objective is simple though, less about former inter-county stars and more concerned with maintaining health and fitness while enjoying the social and competitive aspects of GAA. Renewing and making new acquaintances along the way is a key aim too.

Currently based in Macroom, Tadhg Sheehan has been involved with the Cork Masters Football coaching set-up this year.

“I am not involved in a club team at the moment. It is exciting and it is something to do. It keeps me occupied and it keeps me involved in the game.

“The fact that I am coaching now this year, it will be an extra incentive to do as well as we can. But again it is meant to be fun. The first and foremost is enjoy it and we will see where we will go after that.” 

When asked what the Cork Masters team are targeting from the 2022 campaign ahead, Sheehan said they're taking it step by step for now.

“Last year our target was to just get it up and running. This year we are hoping to go a small bit better and maybe strengthen our panel, maybe win a game or two.

“The hope over the next three or four years would be to make it stronger and stronger, getting to a stage where we can compete. Dublin and Tyrone are the top two teams in last year’s competition.

“The standard was like intermediate or senior club level, that is the standard you are looking at.

We are a long way from that, but our hope is to encourage more younger players, between 40 and 42 to come in and join us, to make it a better team.

“From my point of view, I just wanted to get it up and running, making sure that it was there once I stopped playing.” 

 For many players, it provides them with a final chance to tog out in a Cork jersey. At any age, the pride in wearing the county colours is always special.

“You can certainly see by their faces when they put on a Cork jersey, it was a special occasion for a lot of them. But it is and still is special, no matter what age you are, to put on a Cork jersey.” 

 Preparation and training is well underway at this stage, as the Cork Masters Football team get ready for the competitive action to commence.

The opening league game for the Rebels is due to get underway in early May.

This will provide an early indication of where this Cork side is at. But to have that date to aim towards means that the motivation and morale in training over the next few weeks should be high.

Cork are still relatively new to Gaelic Football at Masters level. They will be most certainly looking to grow and develop further over the coming years, hopefully establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the process.

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