Cork’s starting lineup for the Galway game had seven changes from that which began against Limerick, while Pádraig Power made his league debut from the bench.
Given that Séamus Harnedy and Tim O’Mahony have yet to see game-time this year as they work their way back from injury and Alan Connolly and Mark Coleman will be out for all of the league, building a deep panel is a prerequisite for the management and the early signs in that regard are good.
In six matches across the Co-op SuperStores Munster Hurling League, Canon O’Brien Cup and now Allianz Hurling League, Cork still have a 100 percent record despite the levels of alteration to the team.
After the win over Limerick, in which Cork netted twice, Pat Ryan expressed the hope that the time might be able to find the net even more.
“If we want to be doing anything this year,” he said, “we have to be doing three or four goals in every match. We got two today and we would like to be getting another one if we can.”
That hope became reality in Pearse Stadium as they raised four green flags and, while such a stat comes with an “it’s only the league” health warning, the signs are still encouraging.
Conor Lehane and Seán Twomey each goaled twice and Declan Dalton was unlucky with a shot that came back off the crossbar. The burst of 2-3 at the start of the second half was what put the game Cork’s way but, equally, conceding two goals in injury time – as well as a penalty, which was saved – meant the ending was nervier than expected.
Cork and the rest of the counties have a break next weekend but of course there is a chance that a number of players will be in action as the Fitzgibbon Cup final takes place on Saturday – both UCC and UL are involved in semi-finals on Thursday night.
It’s hardly surprising, given how well things have gone to date that Ryan isn’t exactly welcoming the week off.
“No, we’d love another game to be honest,” he said, “we’d love to keep going.
“Obviously we have UCC and a couple of lads with UL, so they will be missing training all week for us, hopefully they will get to a final and get a bit of confidence from that as well.”
The flipside of that though is that injuries in the squad will have time to heal, increasing the options available to Ryan and the management for the next outing, at home to Westmeath on February 26.