Cork U20 hurling captain Micheál Mullins: Great buzz ahead of Waterford clash

Ben O'Connor's Rebels host the Déise in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Wednesday night at 7pm
Cork U20 hurling captain Micheál Mullins: Great buzz ahead of Waterford clash

U20 team captain Micheál Mullins in action in midfield at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: Larry Cummins

THE Cork U20 hurlers begin their Munster round-robin championship tomorrow night against Waterford in Páirc Uí Chaoimh with a 7pm throw-in. 

It will be the start of a hectic few weeks for the Rebels as they face Tipperary also at home the following Wednesday, before away games at Clare and Limerick respectively. Whoever finishes top will proceed straight to the Munster final, while the teams that finish second and third will play each other in the semi-final.

It's all change for the Cork U20’s this campaign, a new manager in Ben O’Connor as he embarks on his first season in charge having succeeded Donal O’Mahony as boss last September and a new captain in Micheál Mullins from Whitechurch. O’Connor has assembled an impressive backroom team with Ger O’Regan, Ronan Curran, Terence McCarthy and Anthony Nash selectors.

Speaking to The Echo ahead of tomorrow night’s game in the Páirc, Mullins and his teammates are very much looking forward to the start of the championship campaign.

“The preparations have gone really well, there’s a great buzz in the camp as you would expect in the build-up to a Munster championship. Every single player is pushing very hard for a spot in the starting team for the Waterford game. 

 Mullins, who’s in his third and final year as an U20 player is on his third manager, Pat Ryan now in charge of the seniors, guided the U20s to All-Ireland glory in 2021. Donal O’Mahony was in the hot seat in 2022, as the Rebels lost to Tipperary in the Munster semi-final. 

Now, O’Connor is at the helm and the new captain has been so impressed by the impact the former Cork player has made on the team so far. O’Connor captained the Rebels to All-Ireland glory in 2004.

Ben has been magnificent, he’s a legend and he has a really good backroom team with him, Cork people at heart and serious about bringing success to Cork hurling. 

"Ben did tell us at the very start that he’s only here for one reason and that’s helping us be successful. When I heard Ben was going to be the new manager I was buzzing to be honest. 

"There’s a really good atmosphere in the camp and that’s down to the new management team, every member of the squad and backroom team from the physio down to the nutritionist are all together. We can’t ask for much better to be honest, it’s down to us now to deliver on the pitch.” 


The apprentice electrician was picked out by O’Connor to be the new captain a month ago, a marvellous achievement for the 19-year-old from Whitechurch, and Mullins admits it took a fair bit of time to sink in.

“We were training down in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, we were walking into the dressing room after training and Ben pulled me aside, I thought I was after doing something wrong and he told me I am captain for the season. I actually didn’t take any notice of it straight away, I just said thanks very much. 

"It wasn’t until the following night when it actually sunk in that I am actually captain of a Cork hurling team, a dream come true, an absolute honour. It wasn’t until two days after I processed it that I told my parents, they were angry that I didn’t tell them straight away, but they calmed down and were proud as punch."

It will be a tough test for Cork tomorrow night against the Déise. A big crowd is expected, and with Tipperary also at home the following week, before two tricky away games, it’s important that Cork start the championship positively.

“There’s always an element of pressure, that’s sport, but we are just focused on the Waterford game. That’s the joys of the new structure, you can’t look beyond the game that is in front of you.”

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