The appearance side by side of ‘Cork attacker Brian Hurley’ and ‘hamstring injury’ is liable to induce a wince from even the most sanguine Rebel supporter — but Ronan McCarthy insists Hurley’s latest setback is in the ‘niggle’ category.
McCarthy confirmed Monday that the Castlehaven man picked up a hamstring strain training last Saturday. “It’s nothing too serious,” insisted McCarthy, but it will keep him out for a few weeks”.
Which could mean that Hurley misses the first three rounds of Cork’s debut campaign in Division 3 of the Allianz League – at home to Offaly and Down, and an away trip to Leitrim in between.
“At this point any little niggle you are looking at minimum of two weeks. You pick up a grade one (hamstring) and you could potentially miss three rounds of the league,” McCarthy said.
Cork have had more than their share of hamstring problems in recent years — four of them serious long-term issues in Hurley, Sean Powter, Sam Ryan and more recently, Nathan Walsh. However while McCarthy says it’s a point of discussion amongst management and the medical team, he does not see a bigger underlying problem there.
“We have had a lot of what I would call niggles — no major hamstring injuries but the problem now is the minute you pick up a a Grade 1 it’s a minimum of two weeks, maybe longer. Brian’s (Hurley) is a niggle but it’s not something you want to be chancing. Pre-season involves a lot of heavy work, a lot of games, we have a few hamstring issues but they are all what I would term ‘low level’. You look at way so trying to bring that number down, but it’s part and parcel of it at this stage.”
Players serving multiple masters at this time of the year probably doesn’t help.
“To be fair to Kevin Smith and his (Cork) S&C team, they would do an awful lot in relation to monitoring of minutes. But we are all independent republics really — clubs, colleges and someone has to take control of it, which is often the inter-county team.
“Rather than look at Saturday (against Offaly) and select whatever team we want to put out, we must take account of how much football these fellas have played. It’s important to do the right thing by the player instead of the right thing by the team. You can make a short-term decision to try and win the game but you might pay a price for that if the player is fatigued.”
McCarthy will have a keen eye on Cork IT’s Trench Cup game against GMIT this Wednesday, which involves a quarter of Cork seniors — keeper Anthony Casey, Newmarket's Aidan Browne, midfielder Killian O’Hanlon, and in-form attacker Damien Gore.
McCarthy confirmed that Douglas duo Kevin Flahive (shoulder) and Nathan Walsh (hamstring) will miss the entire league though the latter has avoided surgery after visiting a specialist in London.
Mallow’s James Loughrey won’t be ready for this weekend, and neither will the Nemo Rangers contingent, who only rejoined the squad at the weekend. A member of the management team was in Tullamore for Offaly’s
O’Byrne Cup final defeat to Longford.
“We have a panel of 40 at the moment — it was largest before Christmas — and we plan to reduce that down to around 35 after Round 3 of the League.
“We chose not to add anyone extra to the panel after the league in 2019 but this year might be slightly different because the U20 (Championship) is earlier and we will potentially be able to use players from that.
“There may not be a lot (of U20s added) but the opportunity is there.“