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‘It’s about digging in and it’s something we need to do a bit better, definitely,’ says Cork hurling boss Pat Ryan

February 24th, 2024 11:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

Cork senior hurling manager Pat Ryan.

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WHILE their situation is not as grave as that facing the football side, the Cork hurlers are in need of a fillip as the Allianz HL Division 1 Group A reaches the halfway point this weekend.

The Rebels, who face Waterford at SuperValu Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday (3.45pm), are still without a point following defeats away to Clare and at home to Kilkenny.

A new format is due to come in for next year’s league, with five divisions of seven. As a result, finishing in the top three in their section is a must for Cork this year, or at worst winning a fourth-place play-off against the equivalent side from Group B.

After a break last weekend, manager Pat Ryan expects a strong response, especially as the injury list clears up.

‘The most important thing was that we were able to get everybody back on the field,’ he says.

‘We’ve been dealt a fairly strong hand at training over the last couple of weeks and that was vital. We had a very busy schedule and we had lads playing Fitzgibbon, but that’s just the joys of it.

‘We had two tough games then, where you were playing Clare on a Sunday and then playing Kilkenny six days later.

‘It’s been a hectic bit of time, so we had a couple of good sessions and had a team day last Sunday that went very well. We trained on Tuesday and Thursday nights in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and we’re ready to go now again for Sunday.’

While Cork are approaching a full complement, Darragh Fitzgibbon remains sidelined with a shoulder problem and Robbie O’Flynn is out for at least a month after a hamstring injury against Kilkenny.

‘Darragh is still out but he’s not too far away,’ Ryan says, ‘we’d expect him back for Offaly.

‘Ben Cunningham is still out as well, Micheál Mullins is out and obviously Robbie O’Flynn as well.

‘There’s nothing that’s really long-term, we’d expect most of them back in contention for the Offaly game.

‘Robbie is probably four or five weeks, I wouldn’t think he’d be back before the Wexford game. It’s not something that we didn’t expect. With the operation that he had, it’s almost standard practice that you’ll get some sort of re-occurrence. It’s not serious – it’s on the lower-scale end of things but all hamstring injuries are pretty much four weeks. That’s where we’re at and we’ll give him every chance to come back right.

‘I suppose it was a worry for himself that it might have been serious – you always fear the worst with these things but thankfully it’s straightforward enough.’

In both games, Cork have had costly periods where they were overrun by the opposition. Eradicating such spells are vital if they are to get points on the board.

‘It’s about sticking to the gameplan,’ Ryan says, ‘but, also, when teams get a run on you, it’s about working harder.

‘Your workrate has to go up a bit and you just have to go back to basics and get tighter and work a bit harder.

‘Realistically, it’s about digging in and it’s something we need to do a bit better, definitely.

‘In fairness, I think that the lads have responded well in all of the games and our fitness has shown.

‘We feel that we have a very strong squad and in both games a lot of lads came off the bench and had an impact.

‘It’s just about us as a management team using that a bit better and maybe a bit earlier and sensing things that need to be changed a bit quicker, making decisions that will help the lads on the field perform a bit better.

‘The most important thing is that we’ve trained well, having 30-odd lads on the field, which is vital to the way we want to prepare.’

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