BY JOHNNY CAROLAN
BRIAN Hurley has become the first Castlehaven man since Colin Crowley in 2004 to be appointed captain of the Cork senior football team.
The decision to make Hurley – now Cork’s longest-serving player – and Kiskeam defender Seán Meehan joint captains for the coming season was announced at Tuesday’s Cork County Board meeting at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
A star as Cork reached the All-Ireland minor football final in 2010, losing to Tyrone, Hurley made his senior debut in 2013 after the end the U21 campaign where the Rebels were beaten by Galway in the decider. Since then, he has been a first-choice player, albeit plagued by injuries, scoring 8-45 in 27 championship appearances.
Hurley, who turns 30 in April, captained Cork in their opening Allianz FL Division 2 game last weekend, the defeat away to Roscommon, but with previous skipper Ian Maguire unavailable due to club commitments with St Finbarr’s, it wasn’t immediately apparent that there had been an official change made by new manager Keith Ricken.
Back in the era when the county champions selected the Cork captain’s, the Haven’s first skipper was Larry Tompkins in 1990, the Kildare native lifting Sam Maguire as the Rebels won the famous double. Five years later, Niall Cahalane was the captain as Cork won the Munster final away to Kerry – still the last Cork victory against the Kingdom in Killarney – and Crowley had the mantle for the difficult 2004 season, Billy Morgan’s last in charge.
Hurley will share duties with Meehan, who was an All-Ireland U20 medal winner under Ricken in 2019. He made his senior debut in 2020 and impressed last year to such an extent that he was Cork’s only All-Star nomination.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, board delegates voted to inaugurate a county-wide premier junior championship grade. While it had been envisaged that the lower intermediate hurling – the fifth tier – would disappear at the end of 2022 as part of restructuring, it will now be retained as the premier junior. From 2023, there will be a 12-team premier junior football championship, consisting of the eight divisional winners this year and the bottom four sides in the current 16-team IAFC.
Underpinning the change was the logistical difficulty in divisional junior A championships being completed in time for the county championships to run off and provide Munster representatives. While maintaining the status quo was an option for delegates (Option C), it received just 14 of the 233 votes cast. Option A, which would have seen the intermediate A championships recast as premier junior and premier intermediate becoming intermediate, had 99 votes while Option B – fifth-tier premier junior – received 120.