Fixture scheduling has really been of the famine-or-feast kind for the Cork U17 hurlers.
Having won the Munster championship with wins over Limerick, Tipperary, and Waterford on consecutive weeks in April, tonight’s All-Ireland semi-final against Galway in Thurles (7.30pm) represents a first competitive outing in 94 days. Coach John Considine admits it has been a challenge to manage the time period, but also makes the point that this is Galway’s first game.
“We played three Tuesdays in a row,” he says, “so we had three games in 15 days, which was great in one way as it built momentum.
“We stopped for five weeks and then we went back to doing two things a week, but the lads not on the minor panel had the Celtic Challenge then too.
“There were four Cork teams entered, east, west, north and city, so you had more than 100 players involved. There were a few lads who we brought in then as a result of their performances, though they didn’t make the matchday 24.
“It’s hard to know it the layoff will be a help or a hindrance. Senior Munster champions say five weeks is too much, but then I’d prefer to have three games played, as we do, compared to Galway’s none.”
Five of the Cork team — captain Daire Connery, twins Brian and Eoin Roche, Aaron Walsh Barry, and Conor O’Callaghan — started in the Munster minor final win over Clare, while Declan Hanlon and Colin O’Brien came off the bench.
“The experience they have will be a help, especially playing in Thurles,” he says, “but Galway will have five of the team that beat Clare in the minor quarter-final last week too.
“In that regard, it could come down to the other guys who step up. We know that it will be close. Cork beat Galway by 2-8 to 1-8 in last year’s U16 final and when the Celtic Challenge was re-graded after the regional competitions, there were two Cork teams and two Galway teams in the top grade of eight teams.
“I think that the two sides are very evenly matched, there’s a good rivalry developing.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved