Mark Ellis believes the mushrooms tag associated with Cork is a myth and doesn’t do the county’s underage development structures justice.
The Millstreet man feels it might have been used as a coping mechanism when Cork endured fallow years. Kieran Kingston’s side may have surprised almost everyone but themselves this summer but it was only a matter of time before they enjoyed success, says Ellis.
“This idea that the players spring from nowhere; that’s not the case. Hurling is a game that you need to be playing all of the time.
“You just don’t pick up a hurley and be able to use it. It’s a skill, it’s basically a lifestyle. Those things they’re kind of a myth.
“Maybe it was something people clung to when we weren’t having success, that these things would just happen.
“Cork haven’t won a minor All-Ireland in I’m not sure how many years (2001) but it’s a long time but you know...”
Their minors ended the county’s nine-year wait for a Munster title last Sunday, while the U21s will hope to take a first step towards bridging the 10 years since a provincial honour at that level in tomorrow evening’s semi-final against Limerick.
John Meyler will be able to start four of the team that won on Sunday and Ellis can only but admire the confidence they exude.
“Every county has good under-age players, has good talent but I think what separates the talent from the players who really excel is their temperament.
"They’ve got great mentality, great composure and can really express themselves and show their ability every day they go out. They’re not shocked by nerves. The coolest in the dressing room are the young lads.”
Ellis senses everything is pointing in the right direction for Cork hurling. He was among the huge crowd that attended last Monday’s week Munster minor semi-final replay win over Tipperary in Páirc Uí Rinn.
“There was 8,000 advertised but I was there myself and I can tell you there was a lot more than 8,000. It was probably closer to 12,000 or 13,000. They’re a great team and it was great to see them the last day so Cork hurling is certainly on the up but that work hasn’t just been done in 12 months.
"The work has been done at under-age for the last few years. You can see the players coming in Cork. Mark Coleman has had three unbelievable games and he’s only 19. They’re coming up earlier.
"The players are there and as an older player this year I certainly knew there were players coming that were good enough to play at the top level. There was a sense of responsibility to provide them with the platform to show how good they are.
"The U21s are playing on Thursday and at the start of the year I think we would have tipped the U21s to be the best team in Cork this year so hopefully they can push it on and drive it on from here.”
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