WHEN he first received the call back in February about enlisting to the Cork camogie setup, Frank Flannery batted away the request.
He was immersed in Cork IT’s drive for Fitzgibbon Cup success at the time, had a hand in with Youghal’s intermediate hurling outfit at the same time and felt his workload was heavy enough as it was.
But Denise Cronin was persistent. She came back in early March to Flannery and this time pressed him successfully.
“When Denise came back again, at the time I’d opted out of playing with Carrigtwohill for the year with injuries and stuff like that.
“So I took the chance on March 8th and started. Since then I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and they’re a very professional bunch. Denise is excellent to work alongside.
“Her passion for the game is incredible and she’d be keeping an eye on you as well.”
Taking the plunge into coaching waters was not a new experience for Flannery.
“I was involved with Ballygarvan camogie last year. We came from a poor Senior A team to get to the county league final and lost in the semi-final of the championship to St Finbarr’s.
“So we made a lot of progress. I would have followed over the last few years. When it comes to oppositions, I wouldn’t have a clue but I would have known three quarters of this Cork panel very well.
“Between all the teams, I’m out every night of the week but I love it. I’m going back with CIT Freshers next week and I’m looking forward to it.
“With a successful team I was on a hiding to nothing with this Cork side and I knew that. But I’m only 27 and from an experience point of view, it’s great.
“I haven’t played at intercounty level so I have to go a different route to get there. I would see this as a stepping stone maybe.”
Flannery’s first competitive stint at the helm of Cork was in this spring’s National League, yet that competition never ranked high in his list of priorities.
He reasons that this Cork side had accumulated plenty miles on the clock and did not need to put them through a punishing pre-season slog.
“In any competition that I’m involved in coaching, I’m not too bothered about leagues. I feel you peak too early, go too hard too early. Especially with a team like this, you can’t go to the well too often. I remember we lost to Wexford in one game by three points, hurled absolutely terribly and should have been beaten by more.
“We did no pre-season. We just hurled at a fierce intensity all year. The way I work coaching, it’s all match structure. I’m not into drills and running around fields.”
When they fell into the high stakes in the summer, Cork had the happy knack of securing the right results without scaling great heights.
“We were haunted to beat Kilkenny in the group stages,” concedes Flannery. “We took the eye off the ball then before Tipperary. They weren’t going great and we were missing players. We hadn’t played very well as well in the first-half of the semi-final against Wexford but at half-time we’d a stern talk. I think the biggest thing was the fear of losing. We told them to go out and play with abandon.
“There’s unbelievable rivalry between Cork and Wexford. We talked about the 2007 final beforehand but maybe we dwelled too much on it.
“The management were as guilty as anyone for that. But what I liked is that we dragged out the result, which was pleasing to see. I’m very lucky that they have character, you don’t have to build it up.”
Kilkenny enter this match without the levels of experience that Cork possess but Flannery does not subscribe to that theory that Cork are facing novices and insists he is anxious about the proposition in store for his players.
“A lot of these Kilkenny players have been really successful. So I would find they don’t know defeat. I felt in the championship earlier this year, they were happy to come within four points of us. They didn’t believe then that they could beat us. But now they believe they can beat us.
“They’ve improved with every game since then. We’re not playing great to be honest, we’re hurling in fits and starts. They have never played there or lost there.
“It’s a novelty for them. They’ll be running on adrenalin. I’d fear them big time.
“We’re not playing great to be honest, we’re hurling in fits and starts. I know the bookies are making us 1/6 favourites but I would be worried.”
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