Promotion is main target ahead of league throw-in
BY DENIS HURLEY
WITH Cork captain Paul Kerrigan tied up with Nemo Rangers’ All-Ireland club championship commitments, Ronan McCarthy has gone with Ian Maguire as skipper for the national league campaign.
The St Finbarr’s man won’t be 24 until April but has established himself as one of the mainstays of the team at midfield. He admits that there have been a lot of changes since he came on to the panel.
‘I came in in 2014 and it feels like there has been a huge transition but that’s just the way it is in sport, I suppose,’ he said.
‘I’d still classify myself as one of the new guys – I’m not that old! – but at the end of the day it’s football and you have to take your opportunity. That’s the approach everybody has been taking, there are a lot of new faces and a lot of energy in training.
‘There’s an air of confidence at the moment, a lot of positivity and hopefully we’ll drive it on for the first league game.
‘We’re really looking forward to it.’
Cork begin their campaign against Tipperary at 5pm on Saturday, with Maguire keen to improve upon the disappointing showing of 2017.
‘We’ve huge ambitions at the start of the year, just like every team,’ he says, ‘but we’re going to work short-term.
‘We’re looking for promotion from Division 2, that’s the main goal, but going forward, we have new faces on the team.
‘Last year, we had only two wins in Division 2, which isn’t good enough for a Cork team, whatever grade it is. We’re looking to build on from there and we’re really looking forward to the challenge.
‘We’ve had a few retirements, fellas stepping away from the panel, but that presents an opportunity for everybody else to step up. We just really have to drive it on now, there are opportunities there and we have to make sure we take them rather than watching other teams take them.
‘We’re really looking forward to taking on Tipp, it seems to be a regular fixture year in and year out now, almost like a bit of a rivalry developing.
Is that almost a bad thing, that Tipp have become a rival for Cork?
‘Where I’m from, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you don’t play down the competition,’ he says.
‘We’ve played Tiperary the last few years, I was there in Thurles when they beat us, that’s still in my memory, I won’t forget that. It’s just like playing Kerry or whoever, you go out to win the game.
‘When you say there’s a bit of rivalry, at underage I played Tipperary a lot, they were very good.’
It’s like that in the division as a while, with Maguire expecting matters to be fairly open.
‘I was looking at the table and Louth were the only team I think I haven’t played against,’ he says.
‘Obviously, Roscommon are the class of Division 2 at the moment, they were very impressive in winning Connacht last year. It just shows how impressive it is, Roscommon and Cavan were relegated, it’s just the way it goes. We’ll just take each game, we’re not going to look too far down the road, we’re just focused on Tipperary.
‘It’s the first game, that’s what we’re building towards and we’ll re-assess it after that.’