The Castlehaven attacker hasn’t featured for the Rebels since sustaining a horror hamstring injury last July which has required eight months of rehabilitation.
But he is aware of the negative press surrounding the team following a difficult 12 months or so that has left Peadar Healy’s team concerned by relegation to Division 3.
Cork’s 2-11 to 0-9 defeat by Clare last weekend has placed them joint second from bottom in the Division 2 table with three games left to play.
Various pundits have questioned Cork’s hunger, including All-Ireland winning Armagh forward Oisin McConville who, speaking on Monday’s Second Captains podcast, suggested there is a lack of ambition generally around the Cork camp.
“There seems to be, I wouldn’t say a lack of interest, but a lack of ambition, there certainly is a lack of ambition in Cork, that they feel that this is as good as it can be for them,” said McConville.
Hurley shrugged at the criticism though admitted that such negative talk is a regular topic of conversation.
“That’s what everyone asks about but, look, they have their jobs to do at the end of the day,” said Hurley. “I don’t buy newspapers, I don’t really listen to radio stations. I’m coming back from a long enough time out and I’m trying to be as positive as possible and to get myself back on the pitch.
“If you listen to that stuff you’ll drag yourself into the gutter. It’s hard to come out of that then. Personally, I’m just trying to be as positive as possible and to enjoy my football because if I was being honest, the last eight months haven’t been too enjoyable.”
Asked to respond to the McConville comments about a lack of ambition in the Cork camp, Hurley said it’s wide of the mark.
“Again, I don’t listen to people outside of our group,” the Castlehaven man continued. “They don’t know how hard we train, they don’t know what’s going on in the group. They don’t know how positive we can be. Everybody is entitled to their opinion but at the end of the day I can only control myself and what I do in the panel and it’s up to everyone else to control themselves and for us all to try to come together.
“We’re amateurs, nobody goes out to lose. It’s about being as positive as possible and trying to make the Cork people appreciate where they come from and to make kids follow in your footsteps.”
Hurley tore a large portion of his hamstring muscle around four inches off the bone when attempting to dummy an opponent during training with Cork last July. He described the pain as ‘unbearable’ and required surgery which left him with a lengthy scar on his leg as well as a leg brace for a period. His recovery is nearing completion now and he is hoping to complete a club game this weekend before returning to county duty.
“It’s been torture,” said the 24-year-old. “You obviously ask yourself all kinds of questions when you’re in a leg brace for seven or eight weeks and on crutches. You can’t get up and go and you have mood swings and what not. What I did when things got tough, and when you wanted to quit, was remind myself of why you started playing football and when you win, that winning feeling, it turns your motivation back into ‘let’s go to the gym today, let’s push on’.
“Match fitness is different and that’s what I’m getting into at the moment. I was running for the past three or four months and felt like I was ready to go. Then you go into a 10-minute game in training and I’d be out of gas after three minutes and saying to myself, ‘right, I have to work on this’.
“Unfortunately, there have been a lot of games recently and we’ve had down weeks in Cork and the training intensity wasn’t there for me so I’ve been going back to the club, in and out, managing my sessions.
“I’ve done a good few full sessions, maybe nine or 10, so I’m nearly there. I’m going to play a full game with the club on Sunday. Hopefully, that will go well and I can get into the panel and try to help out.”
Hurley hasn’t ruled out playing some part against Meath on Sunday week in Round 5 of the league though, realistically, that game may come too soon.
His scoring ability from the corner-forward position is badly needed, particularly in light of that chastening defeat to Clare though he argued that the Banner are a stronger unit these days.
“I can only talk from my own experience of Clare, my second game for Cork in the Championship was against them,” he said. “It was one of the most physical games I ever played. I can remember any time I got the ball there were three fellas bouncing off you.
“They have very good footballers; Gary Brennan, the Collins’, Jamie Malone, some great footballers. We just have to accept that we weren’t good enough on the day and go back to the drawing board and be positive and try to push on from here.”