Seán Hayes finds himself a busier man than usual. Having held the post of Cork U21 football manager from 2014-17, his inter-county duties are normally done and dusted by this time of year.
This year, though, brought a new grade and a new job for the Nemo Rangers man. His time is now split between preparing the Cork U20s for a Munster Championship campaign which begins this evening and fulfilling the role of selector on Ronan McCarthy’s senior backroom team.
Hayes’ presence in both camps is to show players a pathway exists from U20 to senior level. Fifteen of the U21 side he brought to the All-Ireland final in 2016 have already graduated to senior and his job is to make sure that figure remains high over the next few years.
“A lot of the U21s that have been around for the last three or four years are starting to make it to senior, so you know who they are and what they are about.
“Even next year, looking at the national league and who might you bring forward from the U20s. You would have an idea who to bring up, but it is up to the lads then to decide whether they are good enough or not.”
Hayes and his U20 backroom team of Jim O’Donoghue, Aidan Kelliher, Sean Bowens and Gene O’Driscoll are without Mark White for this evening’s Munster quarter-final against Tipperary (Páirc Uí Rinn, 7.30pm).
The young Clonakilty goalkeeper made his senior championship debut when the Rebels overcame the Premier County in last month’s Munster semi-final and so is prevented by rule from lining out for Hayes’ team.
“It is better for Mark White to be playing senior when he is U20 and if there were 10 more of them [like him], it is even better again because they are going in the right direction.
“No matter who you are, if you have had a fellow for a few years and he gets onto the senior panel, well that is the goal really.
“The U20 is called a development tournament, but that is not the sole point. We are going out to win it, with the Tipperary game first up. We just haven’t played enough matches to tell you how good they are, but I would be very confident that if things go well, they will go a long way.”
CORK (U20 V TIPPERARY):
I Giltinan (Carrigaline); N Walsh (Douglas), B Murphy (Nemo Rangers), L O’Donovan (Clonakilty); T Corkery (Cill na Martra), A Browne (Newmarket), T Linehan (St Michael’s); M Shanley (Clonakilty), J Ryan (Ballymartle); M Keane (Mitchelstown), C O’Callaghan (Éire Óg), C Maguire (Castlehaven); C Óg Jones (Iveleary), M Bradley (Aghabullogue), D Gore (Kilmacabea).
E Kelleher (Éire Óg), A McCarthy (St Finbarr’s), S O’Sullivan (Mitchelstown), L Wall (Kilmurry), S Walsh (Mitchelstown), K Myers Murray (St Finbarr’s), M Cronin (Nemo Rangers), C Barrett (St Finbarr’s), D Shorten (Ballingeary).
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