Captain Ben Walsh leads a strong Killeagh representation on Cork minor team

Rebels take on Waterford at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Tuesday night
Captain Ben Walsh leads a strong Killeagh representation on Cork minor team

Cork minor hurler Ben Walsh in action against Kerry in last year's Electric Ireland Munster MHC. Picture: Don MacMonagle.

Cork minor hurling manager Kieran Murphy hopes the groundwork laid last year will stand to the team as they begin their Electric Ireland Munster SHC campaign tonight.

The Rebels take Waterford at Páirc Uí Chaoimh at 7pm, with the Déise having lost at home to Limerick last Tuesday.

In recent years, Cork County Board and Rebel Óg have taken an integrated approach with regard to minor management teams. Like Murphy, his immediate predecessors, Noel Furlong and Paudie Murray, were in charge of the U16 development squads too and the Sarsfields man is optimistic that the time spent with the players in 2022 will be of benefit.

“It was great to be able to get the know the lads last year,” he says.

“There wasn’t any real official tournament last year or anything like that but it was great to have the squad sessions.

“Between March and September, it averaged out at three days a month. It was good, even just for the young lads to get to know each other and become familiar with the set-up as well as for us to get to know the players.

“We tried to play as many games as we could last year, to give the lads exposure to what inter-county is like.

“It was valuable in terms of seeing players. They are young and fellas can develop very quickly, that’s something that’s been very evident in the time I’ve been involved.”

Murphy is joined by selectors Martin Coleman (Ballinhassig), David Long (Kinsale), James Nyhan (Cloyne) and Colman O'Reilly (Shanballymore) while Seán Óg Ó hAilpín (Na Piarsaigh) and Garry Gray (Sarsfields) are the coaches.

Of the 2022 squad, captain Ben Walsh (Killeagh) and Jayden Casey (Youghal) are underage again this year, though the latter is currently injured, along with Douglas’s Cathal Hallahan.

“We’re happy with how things have gone,” Murphy says.

“We’ve a very nice bunch, they’ve bonded together really well, which isn’t always easy when you’re coming from all sides of the county.

“We do have a couple of injuries, which are disappointing for a few young fellas.
“We’ve only two lads who got game-time last year, Jayden and Ben, so it’s disappointing for Jayden but he’s recovering well.

“He only came back into training last week and so he’ll probably be out for the first two games.”

Among those likely to be central for Cork are Cillian O’Callaghan (Kiltha Óg), Ben Walsh (Killeagh), David O’Leary (Ballincollig), Barry O’Flynn (Sarsfields), Zack Biggane (Charleville) and Barry Walsh (Killeagh).

The busy schedule – Cork host Tipperary next week and then are away to Clare and Limerick later in April – is something that will be a challenge, but Murphy is happy that it will be dealt with well.

“You have to remember that these guys in school,” he says, “so they’re dealing with their schoolwork during the day and then going out and playing the games on a Tuesday night.

“We’re at home for the first two games and you have the travel to factor in for the other two matches, against Clare and Limerick.

“There’s a lot going on for the young lads and it’s a lot to take in for them but we try to prepare them as best we can for that.

“It’s helpful that you have the likes of Aidan O’Connell to bounce things off. Donncha Mulcahy and Eddie O’Sullivan are involved in the S&C and it’s important to know what the right balance is for young fellas that age, especially when they’ve been playing with their schools too.”

Given that Cork’s first two matches are at home, the opportunity to play Galway in a challenge game in the Páirc recently was very welcome.

“We were very fortunate to get in there and very thankful for it,” Murphy says.

“Even though it was only a challenge game, it was a massive occasion for the young lads. You could see it in their body-language and in their faces going down to play there, there was an extra bit of excitement and pressure that they were going to be playing in Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

“The pitch there is just so good now, it’s a different surface to what they’ve experienced to date so it was great to get a run on it.”

CORK (Munster MHC v Waterford): 

Oisin Walsh (Youghal); 

Oier O’Callaghan (Liscarroll Churchtown Gaels), Darragh McCarthy (Passage), Carthaigh Cronin (Midleton); 

Cillian O’Callaghan (Kiltha Óg), Ben Walsh (Killeagh, c), David O’Leary (Ballincollig); 

James O’Leary (Lisgoold), Conor McCarthy (Glen Rovers); 

Johnny Murphy (Dromina), Zack Biggane (Charleville), Barry Walsh (Killeagh); 

Seán Meade (Killeagh), Barry O’Flynn (Sarsfields), Finn O’Brien (Erin’s Own). 

Subs: Fionn Murphy (Killeagh), Seán O’Callaghan (Aghada), Johnny Galvin (Éire Óg), Oisín O’Connell (Carrigaline), Patrick Walsh (Carrigtwohill), Conor McCarthy (St Finbarr’s), Ronan Dooley (Douglas), Brian Lynch (Youghal), James O’Brien (St Colman’s).

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