Experimental Rebels getting the balance right

WHEN their starting 15 runs out on Páirc Uí Chaoimh tomorrow afternoon, it will bring to 36 the number of players that have been afforded game time by the Cork senior football management this spring.

Goalkeeper Alan Quirke, defensive trio Anthony Lynch, Kieran O’Connor and Graham Canty, and attacker Kevin McMahon all make their seasonal debuts and there can be no disputing the extensive search the Cork management has made for players.

“Due to the injuries we had, initially we were forced into giving new players a run,” remarks selector Ger O’Sullivan. “But players showed up very well in other competitions like the McGrath and Sigerson Cups, so we felt they deserved a look.

“Our aim was to give every player a good viewing and I feel that we’ve done that. Picking a team from now on is going to be a challenge but picking a panel will be just as tough.

“It’s great for us to have our experienced players back in defence and we probably didn’t expect to do as well without them. Getting a few early results was important in helping to protect our position in Division 1, which was the initial aim.

“Then we maintained that momentum from there and it’s good to be in a league final now. John Miskella and Pearse O’Neill are the only players out injured now but we hope that they’ll be back for championship.”

There’ll be plenty interest in tomorrow’s match against Mayo as to how McMahon fares at wing-forward.

During the Billy Morgan era, McMahon shone as a wonderful ball-player at wing-forward but a search for work lead to him being based in Edinburgh last year.

“Kevin’s been back since the start of this year,” says O’Sullivan. “He was back for club games last year but wasn’t able to be involved with us as he went abroad for employment. But he always performed well for the club and we kept an eye on him.”

Meanwhile Cork attacker Ciaran Sheehan looks set for a hugely demanding day tomorrow. Sheehan has been selected at full-forward for the Cork seniors for Sunday’s NFL Division 1 tie against Mayo at 2.30pm and then faces a Mid-Cork U21FC final with his club Éire Óg on Sunday night against Ballincollig at 6.45pm.

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