The incentives for the Cork minor hurlers are many: To be the team that ends the county’s nine-year wait for a Munster final appearance at this level, to end the reign of the 2016 All-Ireland champions, to exact revenge for defeat by Tipperary at this hurdle last year, and to ensure there are two Cork teams at Semple Stadium on July 9.
We’ll begin with the last of these. Denis Ring knows what it’s like to be on the sideline with a Cork minor team on Munster final afternoon when the county is also involved in the senior decider. This isn’t a county whose supporters would saunter in at half-time during the curtain-raiser, especially when they’ve been waiting almost a decade to be involved in said curtain-raiser.
“We have experience being there with Cork minor teams and the senior team playing after us. There is no comparison, to be perfectly honest with you,” said Ring.
“Having them involved is hugely important and it is a huge incentive for our lads to be there with them. It is every young fellas dream to play in Thurles and be part of Munster final day. Here, you have a unique opportunity and anybody at all with red blood in his veins will want to win on Thursday night to set that up.”
To do so, they’ll firstly have to lower the flag of the reigning Munster and All-Ireland champions. They clashed at this hurdle last year, proving to be the toughest test the Premier lads would receive on their march to All-Ireland glory. After 33 minutes at Páirc Uí Rinn, Tipp trailed by 1-12 to 0-9. Thereafter, Liam Cahill’s charges outscored their hosts 0-14 to 0-3.
Four players named on this evening’s Tipperary team — Jerome Cahill, Kieran Breen, Paddy Cadell and Jake Morris — featured, while there are Cork survivors in Ger Collins, Sean O’Leary-Hayes, Ross Howell, Evan Sheehan and Brian Turnbull.
“It is a different team and a different year,” continued Ring. “It is a game against Tipperary in a Munster semi-final, so if that doesn’t motivate somebody, then there is something wrong.
“Every team that makes a breakthrough comes from a couple of years where they haven’t won. That’s the incentive, to change a result that happened previously. These lads would love to play in a Munster final and at Croke Park, but these things aren’t handed to you. You have to earn it.”
E Collins (Drom-Inch); M Purcell (Thurles Sarsfields), M Feehan (Sean Treacys), J Cahill (Kilruane MacDonaghs); C Morgan (Kilruane MacDonaghs), R Quirke (Cappawhite), K Breen (Knockavilla-Donaskeigh Kickhams); B O’Mara (Holycross-Ballycahill), P Cadell (JK Brackens); C Bowe (Moyne-Templetouhy), J Morris (Nenagh Eire Óg), R McCormack (Borris-Ileigh); C Bourke (Clonoulty-Rossmore), A McKelvey (Moycarkey-Borris), C McCarthy (Nenagh Eire Óg).
G Collins (Ballinhassig); C O’Callaghan (Dromtarriffe) S O’Leary-Hayes (Midleton), E Roche (Bride Rovers); R Howell (Douglas), J Keating (Kildorrery), G Millerick (Fr. O’Neill’s); D Connery (Na Piarsaigh), D Lenihan (Ballyhooly); C Hanafin (Na Piarsaigh), L O’Shea (Lisgoold), B Roche (Bride Rovers); E Sheehan (Na Piarsaigh), R Downey (Glen Rovers), B Turnbull (Douglas).
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