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Cronin Its a great honour and I will lead by example on the field

Wednesday, 30th January, 2013 9:57am
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Cronin Its a great honour and I will lead by example on the field

By Noel Horgan

NEW Cork senior hurling captain Pa Cronin has strong West Cork links.

The Bishopstown clubman, who made his championship debut under Gerald McCarthy in 2007, was informed of his appointment by Jimmy Barry-Murphy last week.

It’s one that has been greeted with widespread approval both on Leeside and in West Cork, as Pa’s father, Dermot, owns a shop in Skibbereen town – P Cronin’s on Bridge Street – while Pa’s grandfather, Pat Cronin, was also a well-known local.

Pa’s appointment as captain hasn’t come as any great surprise in view of his excellent form in last year’s championship when he was arguably the most impressive Cork player over the course of a campaign that culminated in an All-Ireland semi-final defeat by Galway.

With last weekend’s Waterford Crystal Cup game doubling as a fixture with the inaugural Canon Michael O’Brien Cup final, Pa Cronin enjoyed the unique distinction of collecting a trophy in his very first game as Cork skipper.

Maybe there will be more to come, and Cronin says he is hoping for a good year ahead, although he insists he doesn’t feel any extra pressure as a result of his appointment.

‘I was delighted to get the call from Jimmy last week, and I suppose it’s a massive honour to captain Cork, but it doesn’t mean I will be doing anything differently,’ the new Cork captain said.

‘People make the captaincy out to be something bigger than it actually is, and what it basically amounts to is to go up for the toss before games and make a few speeches here and there.

‘The way I’m going to approach it is to try and play as well as I can in every game, to try and lead by example on the field, but that’s the way it has always been for me. I’m sure it’s the same for every other player.’

Speaking in the wake of Cork’s victory over UCC in the Waterford Crystal Cup last Saturday, Barry-Murphy confirmed that Cronin’s displays in 2012 were a factor in the management’s decision to hand him the captaincy.

‘We put a lot of thought into everything we do, and we feel that Pa showed great leadership qualities and was outstanding all through the championship last year,’ Barry-Murphy said.

‘He’s also a very popular figure in the squad, and those are the reasons why we have appointed him.’

Since gaining recognition with Cork for the first time, Cronin has been ever-present on the team, with the exception of 2010 when his season was decimated by injury.

His only appearance in the championship that year came when he was introduced as a late substitute against Antrim in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

He didn’t feature in the semi-final defeat by Kilkenny in 2010, but he was an automatic choice in 2011 until he was sent off in an All-Ireland qualifier against Offaly, causing him to miss out on Cork’s next game against Galway.

While his unavailability obviously militated against Cork’s prospects of reaching the All-Ireland quarter-finals two seasons ago, it was only last year perhaps that he made it abundantly clear he has developed into an inter-county hurler of considerable stature.

Cronin initially sprang to prominence at under-age level with Bishopstown, playing a starring role in the club’s county minor triumphs in 2003 and 2004.

He was a leading light as well when Bishopstown achieved back-to-back success at U21 level in 2006 and ‘07, having also made a major contribution to their county premier intermediate victory in ’06.

That he is currently operating at the peak of his powers was underlined when he was instrumental in spearheading Bishopstown’s march to a historic appearance in last year’s county senior decider, which was lost narrowly to Sarsfields.

Prior to 2008, the task of picking the Cork captain was entrusted to the reigning county champions, and Cronin becomes the sixth player to be chosen since the County Board broke with tradition.

John Gardiner in 2008, Kieran ‘Fraggie; Murphy in 2010, Shane O’Neill in 2011 and Donal Óg Cusack in 2012 have previously been appointed by the team management under the new system, with Patrick Horgan taking over from Cusack after the latter incurred a season-ending injury in the league against Tipperary last year.