Eighteen minutes of championship football Daniel Goulding saw last year.
Unused in Cork’s opening day demolition of Clare at Páirc Uí Rinn, Goulding was introduced in the closing stages of both the Munster final drawn encounter and the subsequent replay in Fitzgerald Stadium.
Ten minutes he was afforded in the 3-12 to 2-15 stalemate, eight minutes he saw during the second instalment. As for the weekend after against Kildare in Semple Stadium, he had no involvement.
Cork’s summer over, the 2010 All-Ireland final man of the match had enjoyed little over a quarter of an hour inside the whitewash.
Goulding’s slippage in Brian Cuthbert’s pecking order first became noticeable during Cork’s spring campaign, the inside forward starting only one of their nine league games – against Derry when qualification to the knockout phase had already been guaranteed.
It wasn’t until the visit of Kerry on the first weekend of March in round four he was called down from the stand; his total spring involvement stretching just beyond the two-hour mark.
Life on the bench was difficult to adjust to. Hardly surprising given this was a footballer who featured in all four of Cork’s championship outings the previous summer.
“Naturally, I was disappointed,” says the 29-year old. “It is not easy being a sub. If you talk to any of the lads on the panel, I am sure they will say the same thing. Everyone wants to be on the first 15. All you can do is keep the head down and try and come back better. Obviously, the lads who are on the pitch are doing everything they can to stay on it. You have to be selfish.”
He’s wiped clean the slate for 2016. New manager, new season. No point getting hung up over what happened — or didn’t as is his case — last year. Already, there have been positives to clutch to. He started, and finished, all three McGrath Cup games; kicked 0-13 in the process to finish as Cork’s top-scorer and was rewarded for his committed January endeavours when handed the captaincy on the cold Friday night that Clare were dispatched in the decider.
The two points he kicked in the closing minutes of their McGrath Cup opener against Limerick to swing the verdict in Cork’s favour and the six white flags he raised against Waterford when other household members of Peadar Healy’s panel sat high up in the Mallow stand neatly wrapped in heavy jackets and colourful woolly hats was geared towards this weekend, towards nailing down a starting berth for the visit of Mayo. Another spring in the stand doesn’t appeal to him.
Named at right-corner- forward for tomorrow’s clash, in what will be his first competitive start for Cork in 10 months, Goulding says he has grown more appreciative of first-team selection.
“I am enjoying my football. I suppose I didn’t play a huge amount last year so it is just good to get back on the field playing games. It is about taking these opportunities and using them to try and work and improve and to get fit at the start of the year because it is a long season. The main goal would be to get up to speed.”
He continued: “Every time you play for Cork it is an honour. There are a lot of very good footballers in this county who never get the chance. I don’t think anyone on our team takes the Cork jersey for granted. Be it the McGrath Cup, league or championship, you never take wearing that jersey for granted. You have to respect it and honour it.
“You probably do become more appreciative of it when you don’t see as much of championship as you like. When you do get your chance, you appreciate it because you know there are 15 behind you who missed out and who want it every bit as much as you.”
And while he’ll also chase greater championship involvement during the summer, for now, league takes precedence. “When it is a new set-up, you can’t afford to be placing emphasis on something six months down the line because there is a lot of competition for places and you are only as good as your last game. Cliché, yes, but there is no point keeping anything in reserve for later on.”
Now in his 11th season with the Cork footballers, Goulding finds himself juggling increased training loads, his work as a planning engineer with Gas Networks Ireland and the small matter of a PhD which he hopes to sign off on later this year.
“I am probably not giving [the PhD] as much time as I should. It is just trying to prioritise everything from one week to the next. Outside of training, recovery has become so important; eating right, getting enough protein into your body and getting enough sleep. Getting eight hours a night can be a challenge. Then there is stretching, rolling, massages and going to the pool. Getting time to do it all is the hardest part.
“At the end of the day, it is still about putting the ball over the bar. When you are not enjoying it, you might as well pack it up, but when you are, you’ll stay going for as long as you can.”
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