Curran says pace is paramount in modern game

Former Cork hurler Ronan Curran believes the county and Clare’s presence in next month’s All-Ireland final has proven the age profile of elite hurling has dropped dramatically.

The two-time All Star centre-back, who retired from the inter-county game at just 30 two years ago, said the longevity of a player’s career will be dictated by how long they retain pace.

Should each team field the teams that won their respective All-Ireland semi-finals, the average age of the Cork team will be a mere 24.26 while Clare’s will be an even lower 23.2.

The Mycro sales manager wrote in his blog on the Cork-based sportswear company’s website: “Two years ago I retired from inter-county hurling for this very reason, I knew there was no way I could keep up with the pace of the young players in the game today and the way the game is now played.

“The game has been changing for a while into a more possession type game where having the ball in hand is more important than where the ball is on the pitch.

“From my own perspective playing as a centre-back there was a time when judging the play was of paramount importance and if you didn’t have the pace you could get away with it by judging where the ball would arrive.

“Nowadays if you leave your man for a second the chances are the opposition will find him with a clever short pass and you will be in trouble.

“This is why it is now a young man’s game and its going to get harder and harder for the older lads whose pace is dwindling to survive as an inter county hurler.

“It’s not surprising to me that the two surviving Cork players from our All-Ireland wins are Tom Kenny and Brian Murphy and it’s for that very reason. Back in our day the lads had amazing speed and maybe it has come back a bit but these two are still fast enough to keep up in a game that’s getting faster and faster.”

Curran believes Cork and Clare have transformed their seasons from appearing in their Division 1B final in the spring to reaching the September 8 decider because of their players’ preference for hard pitches.

“In my opinion you only have to look at the players on each team to see why they struggled in the league and prospered in the Championship.

“You have the likes of Tony Kelly, Conor McGrath and Podge Collins on the Clare side and Luke O’Farrell, Conor Lehane and Jamie Coughlan from Cork who are all speed merchants along with a dozen or so more.

“These players are made for summer hurling when the sod dries up and the pace of the game is at full flow.

Curran has been thrilled with several of the Cork players such as Seamus Harnedy who’s proved him wrong “and more” and Daniel Kearney.

As for his old Cork team-mate Patrick Horgan he said: “Hoggy is Hoggy, we all know how good he is and with ball in hand he is close to unstoppable, we just need to get the ball to him more. He’s having a great year and a lot of this is due to playing him in his correct position at last – full-forward.

“In my opinion he was playing out of position for years in the corner where he struggles with the pace needed for that position. But t Hoggy thrives on breaks and picking up loose ball which is more frequent in central positions.”

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