Cork haven’t reached an All-Ireland minor football final since 2010 – but how many of that group went on to play senior with the county? DENIS HURLEY looks at what happened next for those players
David Hanrahan (Douglas): The goalkeeper manned the sticks for Cork at U21 level in 2012 and 2013, losing to Galway in 2013 but there was some solace as he helped Cork to what remains their last All-Ireland junior title in the same year – he was eligible as he hadn’t played senior for Douglas in 2012. After that, he went on to play in goal in the league for Cork in 2014, Brian Cuthbert’s first year in charge. While he was always a goalkeeper in Cork colours, he was just as likely to be found out the field for his club side and played centre-forward in their win over Bishopstown in the opening round of this year’s championship.
Kevin Fulignati (Nemo Rangers): The defender did go on to feature as part of the U21 panel, but the 2010 minor final was the last competitive game he started for the county. He has, however, been a fixture on the Nemo team as a marauding wing-back for a number of years, winning medals as the city side won the Andy Scannell Cup in 2015 and 2017.
Matthew O’Shea (Glengarriff): The first player from his club to play for Cork at any grade since the 1940s, O’Shea was on the U21 panel in 2012 and 2013, winning provincial medals, but didn’t feature as part of the matchday squad for the 2013 All-Ireland final. Now based in Dublin.
Alan Cronin (Nemo Rangers): Like quite a few of the 2010 alumni, Cronin was a three-year U21, establishing a reputation as a sticky corner-back, but while he did have a few opportunities at senior, injuries and, to a lesser extent, his size counted against him making an impact. He remains an integral figure for Nemo in the county championship, winning SFC medals in 2015 and 2017, while his younger brother Stephen is challenging for a starting spot in the Cork defence.
Conor O’Sullivan (Clyda Rovers): Like Fulignati, a panel member at U21 level and played for the Cork junior team in 2014, having helped Clyda to win the Premier IFC the previous year. During the Mourneabbey club’s time at senior level, O’Sullivan has been one of their go-to players.
Thomas Clancy (Clonakilty): Was a standout in 2010 as a tough but stylish centre-back and his graph continued to point upwards. For the next three years at U21 level, he manned the centre-back or midfield spots and it was no surprise when he became part of the senior squad.
Under Brian Cuthbert, he looked to be close to making the full-back spot his own but injuries halted his progress and he struggled for form in the latter part of Peadar Healy’s reign. Wasn’t part of the panel in Ronan McCarthy’s first year in charge in 2018 but earned a recall due to good performances for Clonakilty and looks to be back on track.
Jamie Wall (Kilbrittain): A talented dual star, Wall progressed serenely from minor to U21 football, playing at wing-back as Cork defeated Kerry by 2-24 to 0-8 in the Munster final of 2011. That was the first of three Munster U21 medals, with the All-Ireland final lost against Galway in the last of those, in 2013. Wall also a part of Brian Cuthbert’s extended senior panel. The Kilbrittain man played U21 hurling in 2013 and won a Munster intermediate hurling medal with Cork the following year, but a freak accident forced him to retire. Since then, he has turned his attentions to coaching, guiding Mary Immaculate College to the Fitzgibbon Cup title in 2017 while they were beaten finalists this year. Has also been involved with Kilmallock, Kilbrittain and Cork development squads.
Jamie Burns (St Finbarr’s): Operating at midfield in 2010, the Barrs man has flourished in defence at club level, a key figure of the team which reached the 2017 county final, losing to Nemo Rangers after a replay, and then going a step further last year.
Was a sub on the 2013 U21 team but never played at senior level for Cork.
Damien Cahalane (Castlehaven): A rock on that 2010 minor team, the Castlehaven man made an immediate step up to U21 level, playing at full-back on the side which hammered Kerry in that year’s Munster final. Two more provincial medals at that age-group followed but an All-Ireland remained elusive, however it didn’t stop him progressing to the senior team in 2013. He had already made his Cork senior hurling debut before that, playing against Wexford in 2012, but after prioritising football in 2013, he attempted to combine both codes in 2014. At the end of that season, he opted for hurling, having won a Munster SHC medal, with two more to follow in 2017 and 2018. Continues to play football for Castlehaven, winning county medals in 2012 and 2013.
John O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers): The Carbery Rangers man has gone on to establish himself as a fixture in the senior team. Progressed to the U21 grade and won Munster medals with Cork in 2012 and 2013. The Rebels lost the All-Ireland final to Galway in the latter year but O’Rourke went on to make his senior debut in the championship that followed. Helped Carbery Rangers to the county SFC title in 2016, having been part of the side which lost to Ballincollig in the final two years before that.
Mark Sugrue (Bandon): The exciting attacker was a key figure in the Munster U21 wins of 2012 and 2013 and played junior for Cork from 2013-16 inclusive but, while he did feature in the McGrath Cup, that was the extent of his senior involvement. Has enjoyed success with Bandon, winning the county PIHC in 2016, the same year the Lilywhites won the IFC, having won the JAFC in 2015. Sugrue has also featured heavily with the Carbery divisional sides and played for Cork in the CoOpSuperStores.ie Munster HL in 2018.
Dan Mac Eoin (Ilen Rovers): A wonderful natural talent, Mac Eoin scored five points in the All-Ireland final loss to Tyrone. He played a key role as a sub in the 2012 Munster U21 final win over Kerry and then was a starter in the run to the All-Ireland final the following year. Was given a run at senior level in the Allianz league campaign of 2016 but opportunities were limited thereafter, with misfortune with injuries not helping. Continues to be one of Ilen’s leading lights, though.
Kevin Hallissey (Éire Óg): Like so many of his colleagues, Hallissey – who scored 1-1 in the All-Ireland final – was just as proficient, if not more so, in hurling. It is the other code that he has prioritised for his club in recent years, however he was a sub on the U21 football panels of 2012 and 2013.
Thomas Hegarty (O’Donovan Rossa): The Skibbereen native was a sub on the U21 panel in 2013, kicking a point after coming off the bench in the Munster final win over Tipperary. That was the end of his Cork representation, but he is an important figure in the O’Donovan Rossa side, helping the Skibbereen club to wins over Carrigaline and Ballincollig in the early part of the current championship.
Brian Hurley (Castlehaven): The man whose scores were so vital in Cork making the final, it was no surprise that he glided through the grades. While he had to wait for his turn due to the talented attackers available to the U21 management in 2011, he was a star at the grade in the next two years and made his senior debut in 2013, slotting straight into the team. That was also the year that he helped Castlehaven win back-to-back SFC titles for the first time. Two horrific hamstring injuries threatened to derail his progress and while he was back in 2018, he was still short of full sharpness. Two goals against Limerick in this year’s opener suggest that he is back to near his best, though.
Daniel Fitzgerald (Kiskeam): The team captain in 2010 but ravaged with injuries which meant he was often used as sub. Later suffered two cruciates but recovered to help Kiskeam reach senior level.
Luke Connolly (Nemo Rangers): One of those who has gone on to become a senior star, though he was on the bench for the Munster semi-final win over Limerick.
David O'Donovan (Nemo Rangers): Was a part of the Nemo side which got to the 2015 Munster club final, losing to Clonmel Commercials. Now living and working in Canada.
Stephen O'Mahony (Gabriel Rangers): The big man missed two years but spinal surgery saved his career before he was a key part of the Gabriels side which won the JAFC in 2016.
Kevin Sheehan (Mallow): Another dual player, he still plays for Mallow.