Canon O'Brien Cup: Cork hurlers look to build on Kerry win as they face UCC

Canon O'Brien Cup tie takes place between Munster League games against Kerry and Limerick
Canon O'Brien Cup: Cork hurlers look to build on Kerry win as they face UCC

Brian Roche of Cork loses his hurley in a tackle by Fionan Mackessy of Kerry. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

TUESDAY NIGHT'S Canon O’Brien Cup clash with UCC at the Mardyke (7pm) will afford the new Cork management another chance to assess the options available to them.

The Rebels’ year began with a comfortable win over Kerry in the Co-op SuperStores Munster Hurling League in Tralee last Thursday night and they host Limerick on Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday.

Fergal Condon is one of the selectors appointed by new boss Pat Ryan and he is happy with the progress made so far.

“We’re a new management coming in, with a new coach, and the approach might be different from what they were used to,” he says.

We’ve been doing an awful lot of stick work, with some strength and conditioning. From here on, we’ll be trying to put our style of play on it – up to this, we haven’t been because you’re trying to get the skill-set first.

“Now, we’re working on tactics and stuff but we’ve a lot to do yet.”

Cork won by 2-30 to 2-17 against Kerry, a good start but with room for improvement.

“We had a lot of young fellas from the underage success and a few experienced fellas too,” Condon says.

“At times, we played really good hurling and at times we weren’t so great but we can work on that.

Cork selector Fergal Condon during last Thursday's Co-op SuperStores Munster Hurling League game between Kerry and Cork at Austin Stack Park in Tralee. Picture: Inpho/Laszlo Geczo
Cork selector Fergal Condon during last Thursday's Co-op SuperStores Munster Hurling League game between Kerry and Cork at Austin Stack Park in Tralee. Picture: Inpho/Laszlo Geczo

“We still scored 2-30 at the end of the day and we created a bit of space. We lost our shape a small bit at times but that’s going to happen in your first game of the year.

“I think we got 1-16 in the first half and 1-14 in the second. Overall, we’d be happy, the lads were working hard to do the right thing. Obviously, we did make some mistakes but we’ll go back into training, look at the analysis, have a chat and try to correct them.

“We’ve a lot of games coming up over the next few weeks and ultimately February 4 [Allianz Hurling League opener against Limerick] is when we really want to be going handy and then April 30 for the championship.”

Mark Coleman and Alan Connolly will definitely miss the national league campaign while Shane Kingston and Ben Cunningham were forced off on Thursday night with what Cork hope will not be serious injuries.

Darragh Fitzgibbon is another on the injury list after sustaining a shoulder problem in a challenge game against UCC at the end of December.

“Darragh is being assessed this week,” Condon says. “We were lucky that Dr Paddy Crowley was on the spot to assist him and that was a big help in terms of the recovery.

“I’d say he’ll be out for two or three weeks.”

With so many players involved in third-level hurling, the hope is that further knocks will be avoided but Condon knows that it comes with the territory.

“Overall, we have 22 lads playing Fitzgibbon hurling this month,” he says. “That’s a lot, but there’s a double message there in that it shows we’ve a lot of young fellas on the panel.

“Trying to blend them in with the experienced lads is going to take a bit of time but we’re out to give them the best chance we can give them.”

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