THERE’LL be Cork accents audible tomorrow among the Fermanagh hurlers training in Lissan.
Cork ‘keeper Donal Óg Cusack and team trainer Jerry Wallace will conduct a training session with the northerners as part of the Halifax-GPA twinning programme, but yesterday both of them stressed the need to be sensitive to the environment they are entering.
“We’ve got to be conscious of the management in place in Fermanagh, and the ethos and style they want to play,” says Wallace. “We can’t walk in and say ‘do this’ if it contradicts what the manager is telling them.”
Cork’s legendary attention to detail on the training field will be replicated in the Erne County tomorrow.
“The big thing is to carry out the drills correctly, that a player’s full attention is on the drill,” says Wallace.
“If you watch club games, even though players are prepared very well, you’ll see lads running over the ball and missing it in the air. That comes down to training, that their minds aren’t set on training so they develop a motor skill that’s poor.
“You can have a training session for three hours, but if you can get lads to concentrate fully for one hour they’ll get more benefit out of that.”
Wallace says he and Cusack intend to hit the ground running tomorrow.
“We’ll set up a multi-skill drill for 10 minutes first to gauge capabilities, and when we establish the level of technique we’ll have an hour and a half session first, then a question and answer session, but it’ll be tailored to suit the team.
“You go through the drill at low tempo first, to make sure they’re running the proper lines, and then you can offer correction if needed. Then you can raise the tempo.”
For his part, Cork ‘keeper Cusack says the feedback in advance of the session has been good: “We spoke to some of the Fermanagh guys already, and there are lads up there who probably spend as much time hurling as we do. We’re just going to show them what we’re doing. The proposal came from Cork originally, so it’s nice for us to be involved.”
Cusack noted recent comments from Longford manager Matt McLoughlin, who said recently that he had not been contacted by Wexford, with whom Longford are twinned.
“There are always going to be teething problems,” says Cusack.
“It might be a bit harsh to highlight one of the negatives when everyone is in agreement that this is a good idea, and it’s been going on for years informally anyway.”
Cusack and Wallace will travel by helicopter (weather permitting) from the Castleknock Golf and Country Club in Dublin to the Fermanagh county training centre at Lissan to conduct the session.
“I’m hugely in favour of the initiative,” says Wallace. “It’s for Fermanagh to get as much as they can out of this arrangement, and I’m sure they will.”
GPA Chief Executive Dessie Farrell expressed his delight with the initial reaction from the players.
“The twinning programme has started with a bang, with four McCarthy Cup teams taking to the roads and to promote hurling far and wide.
“We understand that hurlers are fiercely loyal to their sport and to one another, so we see the programme as a natural way of harnessing that loyalty to help promote the game in the non-traditional areas.
“Top hurlers have been travelling to the weaker counties on a voluntary basis for years and the twinning programme is a way of formalising that voluntary effort on a wider scale.”
Last Saturday the Monaghan hurling panel travelled to DCU where Tipperary’s Diarmuid Fitzgerald conducted a session, while the Sligo panel travelled to Coolderry in Offaly at the weekend to be trained by Offaly seniors Brian Carroll and Brian Mullins.
On Wednesday night former Clare stars Brian Lohan and Jamesie O’Connor travelled to Louth’s GAA training centre in Darver to conduct sessions for the Louth senior hurling and development squads, and the county board made a contribution to the Tony Griffin Foundation.
The remaining partnerships will be developed over the coming months, with help being provided by players and coaches from McCarthy Cup squads during the scheduled sessions.
While the Rackard panels will benefit directly from this link, it is anticipated that local coaches, schools and development squads in the regions will be involved in future visits.
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