CORK, under the tutelage of Keith Ricken, claimed two of the last three Munster U20 football titles and Bobbie O’Dwyer, who himself managed Cork to All-Ireland minor glory in 2019, will look to continue that success this summer, beginning with Monday’s semi final against Limerick.
O’Dwyer also served as a senior selector last year and is better placed than most to judge where Cork football is at.
“There are a lot of really good footballers in Cork, and there are a lot of really good footballers coming through. I probably know the younger lads that much better. Cork football is good. It’s a case of us as managers and coaches developing them onto the next level to be the best that they can be, but there’s some really good raw material coming through.
“I saw from my time with the seniors last year that there’s a huge step up from minor to U20 and a huge step again from U20 to senior. That step-up doesn’t happen overnight. There were a lot of new guys that came into the senior panel this year, and they’re all very good footballers, but Division 2 is a hell of a standard. You’re seeing things, from a coaching and playing perspective, that you haven’t seen at a minor or U20 level. Things like different styles, how teams structure their kick-outs, how they structure their transitions, and it takes you a while to get through that.
“I was talking to a Dublin senior selector last year and I wondered how they were finding their ability to bring their U20s through to senior. And what he said to me was that Con O’Callaghan was the only one who came straight through from U20 to senior. So, it does take a while, and a lot of hard work to get to that level. ”
With Cork, being Cork, however, the cardinal virtue of patience isn’t always to the fore.
“Human nature is what it is, and we’re a very proud county. I guess we want and expect our guys to be performing at a very high level yesterday, but if we continue to do the work with them, they will get there. But it is also about having a plan in place and having an arrangement with the county board, the management at inter-county level, the schools, the universities, the clubs.
All those stakeholders need to have a voice and have an understanding to get everybody working together for the benefit of the county. ”
That’s all for the future, for now, all O’Dwyer and his charges are thinking of is today.
“We’re concentrating on the game, concentrating on our own performance and we’re going to be the best we can be on the day. The lads have prepared well for it and we’re going up there to do a job and I’ll talk to you after the game, and we’ll see how we’ve got on. ”
Monday’s semi-finals sees Cork and Limerick meet in Ballyagran while Kerry travels to Miltown-Malbay to meet Clare (7pm for both).
: C Dungan (Carrigaline); J O’Driscoll (Valley Rovers), T Walsh (Kanturk), D Peet (Clonakilty); D Cashman (Millstreet), N Lordan (Ballinora), S Brady (Ballygarvan); K Scannell (Carbery Rangers), A Walsh (Kanturk); R O’Sullivan (Newcestown), C Walsh (Kanturk), H Murphy (Éire Óg); R O’Donovan (Barryroe), C Hanlon (Buttevant), D O’Mahony (Ballincollig).
: R Cashman (Kanturk), A Walsh-Murphy (Valley Rovers), M Browne (Newmarket), P O’Driscoll (Gabriel Rangers), T O’Donoghue (Carrig na bhFear), P O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), C Daly (Clonakilty), E Walsh (Clyda Rovers), F Fenner (Castletownbere).
: S O’Connell (Fr Casey’s); E McGrath (Galbally), P Holian (Ballylanders), R O’Connor (Newcastlewest); S Kilbridge (Fr Casey’s), A Neville (Newcastlewest), C Woulfe (St Senan’s); P McMahon (Ballysteen), D Murray (Monaleen); J Baynham (Monagea), E Rigter (Newcastlewest), C O’Duinn (Monaleen); K Mullins (St Patrick’s), D Bridgeman (Mungret St Paul’s), D O’Shaughnessy (Ballysteen).
: D Burns (Na Gaeil); D O’Callaghan (Kilcummin), A Dineen (Rathmore), J Nagle (Austin Stacks); E O’Connor (Na Gaeil), A Heinrich (Austin Stacks), T Cronin (Kenmare); R Murphy (Listry), S O’Brien (Beaufort); C Burke (Milltown / Castlemaine), T O’Donnell (Castlegregory), E Looney (Dr. Crokes); D Geaney (Dingle), K Goulding (Ballyduff), W Shine (Killarney Legion).
: S Broderick (John Mitchels), A Curran (Austin Stacks), T Doyle (Dr. Crokes), G Hassett (Laune Rangers), K Evans (Keel), J O’Connor (Beaufort), C Ryan (Rathmore), J Kissane (Austin Stacks), P O’Leary (Gneeveguilla).