BY KIERAN McCARTHY
HE’S come a long way in a short space of time.
Rewind 12 months ago and if you told Luke Meade that he would be after playing a starring role for Cork’s senior hurlers in their 2017 Munster SHC success and run to the All-Ireland semi-final, he’d have laughed at you.
But that’s exactly what unfolded this past season as the Newcestown clubman burst on the senior inter-county scene and looked at home on the big stage.
It was for his performances in Cork’s successful Munster senior hurling championship win that he picked up a Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star Monthly Award (July) recently, where he reflected on his inter-county journey this year.
‘It was a disappointing end to it (losing to Waterford in the semi-final) but we have to be happy with the year we had,’ Meade said.
‘A year ago if someone told me I’d be starting with the Cork seniors I’d have laughed at them.
‘I didn’t think I’d have a hope. I didn’t think I’d even be on the panel, to be honest.
‘I got onto the team for the Munster Senior League at the start of the year, played well enough and I trained as hard as I could then to keep it going. I just tried to keep playing well in training and working hard because the competition for places is huge.’
What made life at senior level easier for Meade is that he was part of a group of young players that all came on line for Kieran Kingston’s side at the same time.
‘Last year we were only brought onto the panel for the championship. We didn’t spend the winter or the league before that training with the seniors,’ Meade said.
‘This season we started training last November, and getting to train and play with these inter-county players throughout the winter built up the confidence.
‘There were 11 or 12 U21s on the senior panel at the start of the year – that helps on the pitch but it helps off it as well. You feel more comfortable in the dressing-room being around fellas you know and that helps build your confidence as well and helps you play better.’
With championship games against Tipperary, Waterford and Clare under his belt, Meade is ready to kick on again next year – but before that he’s hoping to inspire Newcestown in the senior hurling championship. They play Blackrock in a quarter-final on September 23rd.
‘It’s all about Newcestown now and hopefully keeping our good run going,’ Meade said, and as for Cork in 2016, he added: ‘There is always room for improvement, it’s never the perfect performance.
‘We didn’t play well against Waterford and we know that we can play better and that we have the potential to play better so we’re looking to build on this year, learn from it and come back a better team.
‘Physically I have a long way to go before I am at the right stage physically – but I feel my whole game has improved this year. Pat Ryan is an unbelievable coach. The whole team’s hurling has come on a load this year. First of all next year I’ll have to try and keep my place on the team because competition for places is unbelievable. Every training game we had was so hard and then with the minors coming along now, you have to work hard to get your place.’
UL student Meade (20) certainly worked hard this year and reaped the rewards, one of those being a Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star Monthly Award.