Cork Masters benefit from All-Ireland winning footballers

Over-40s team began season with win over Clare and have John Miskella, Nicholas Murphy and Jim O'Donoghue in their set-up for 2023
Cork Masters benefit from All-Ireland winning footballers

Cork's John Miskella gets the ball away from Kerry's Kieran Donaghy during the 2007 Munster final in Killarney. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

The addition of former senior inter-county stars has helped to boost the Cork Masters football team on and off the field, according to chairperson Mark O’Sullivan.

Taking part in the over-40s competition for the third year, Cork got off to a winning start against Clare last week, triumphing by 1-12 to 0-7 in Shannon.

John Miskella played at full-forward for Cork, while his fellow 2010 All-Ireland champion Nicholas Murphy is also involved this year along with another former Rebel, Jim O’Donoghue.

Their presence helps to raise standards as well as raising the profile of the team and masters football.

The Cork Masters team after last week's win over Clare.
The Cork Masters team after last week's win over Clare.

“John Miskella was playing the last day and Jim O’Donoghue came on as a sub,” O’Sullivan says.

“Nicholas Murphy wasn’t available but he is part of our squad and will be there the next day.

“There are two big benefits to having fellas like that involved. On one hand, guys are thinking, ‘God, I’m playing with Nicholas Murphy,’ and that brings out the best in them. 

These guys still have it – you see them do something on the training field and you’re wondering how they do it!

“Then, you’ve people who see that we have former inter-county guys and they realise that it’s a fairly serious competition.

“It all helps to build the profile and, from what I can see, it’s really beginning to take off nationally.”

Ger McSweeney was top scorer in the victory at the home of Shannon’s Wolfe Tones, scoring 1-5 while Terence Collins grabbed two points. Miskella, Terry Broderick, Edwin Buckley, Mike Brady and John Paul O’Driscoll were on target too.

Cork, managed by Seán Horgan with Cormac O’Reilly as coach, are out next against Waterford in Mallow on May 27, with further group fixtures against Kerry, Laois, Westmeath and Limerick before the knockout section starts.

In 2021 and 2022, Cork’s preparations were hampered by Covid-19 but a full lead-in has really stood to the team on this occasion. Greater familiarity among the players leads to improved performances as a result.

“We’re very happy with what was a good performance,” O’Sullivan says.

“We finished strongly and really showed our fitness and yet, still happy that we have things to work on and that we’re still building.”

DEDICATION

“We trained twice a week, with lads asked to make one session. If they could make two then great but we gave them that bit of flexibility because our players are that bit older and they have more commitments.

“The level of dedication has been fantastic and you can see it in the fitness and the intensity. We were able to start developing plans now in training because guys have done the initial training and everyone is more or less at the same level in terms of fitness.

“It means we can go forward as a group.”

Cork Masters football chairperson Mark O'Sullivan (second from right) with Bernard Yore of partners Eirdata, Barry Cafferkey and Rob Stuart (secretary) at the launch of the 2023 season. Picture: Larry Cummins. 
Cork Masters football chairperson Mark O'Sullivan (second from right) with Bernard Yore of partners Eirdata, Barry Cafferkey and Rob Stuart (secretary) at the launch of the 2023 season. Picture: Larry Cummins. 

That progress goes hand in hand with the improvements being made in terms of organisation as the set-up benefits from the support of various bodies.

For the first time, the team are wearing the official Cork kit, supplied by the county board, while the generosity of partners like Eirdata has been a huge help in offsetting the various costs that arise from running a team.

O’Sullivan hopes that it’s a case of onwards and upwards as the summer goes on.

“The county board agreed to give us a couple of sets of jerseys and some footballs,” he says.

“We weren’t expecting it and it’s a fantastic gesture, we’re so grateful. 

That again raises people’s pride and levels of interest – they were already wearing the county jersey but now it’s ‘the’ county jersey.

“We’re very grateful too to our major partners Eirdata, they’ve been brilliant to us.

“It all feeds into the feelgood atmosphere and we’re very happy with where we are."


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