PAUDIE Murray intends to use the Littlewoods Ireland Camogie League to unearth new talent as Cork prepare to face Tipperary (this weekend) and Waterford.
‘I have always looked at the league as a case of coming out of that competition with a couple of new players emerging and looking to force their way on to the starting line-up. This year will be no different,’ Murray told The Southern Star.
‘Obviously, you like to win every match you play however if we finish this year’s National League without having won a game but are sure that we have three of four new players out of it, I would consider that to be a success.
Clearly, Murray has left no stone unturned as Cork go in search of their first All-Ireland senior championship since 2018.
An impressive management team has been assembled for the 2021 campaign including Kevin Murray (lead coach), Damien Murray and Anthony O’Neill (logistics), Matthew Twomey and Teddy O’Donovan (coaches), Niall Collins and Conor Weir (performance analysts), Barry Corkery (performance coach), Dr Paul O’Keefe, Marian McCarthy (Board liaison officer) and David Niblock (physio).
Add to that, Cork City FC’s Mark McNulty as goalkeeping coach, last year’s Tipperary U20 strength and conditioning coach Kevin Dunne, nutritionist Eoin Galvin and performance coach Eimear McCarthy.
And how has the pandemic effected preparations?
‘I’ve been quite relaxed about everything in terms of all the restrictions,’ Murray said.
‘The girls got their strength and conditioning programmes at the beginning of the year and have been in touch with our coaches on a regular basis. I was quite cool about whenever we were going to be allowed back out on a pitch but, yes, at the same time, it is great to spend the last couple of weeks training as a group together.
‘This year, everyone is going into the league with no challenge games (still prohibited) played. That’s a concern but it is the same for everyone. We are all heading into the unknown.
‘Cork has a very young squad but I used the word ‘developing’ a lot last year. A quick glance at our senior panel and it is very, very young, albeit with some promising players on board. Their attitude is good. If that is there then you have a chance.’
Murray has plenty of respect for Cork’s two opponents in the National League and will not be taking Tipperary or Waterford for granted.
‘They are two up and coming teams,’ Murray noted.
‘Tipperary are probably that little bit more advanced than Waterford right now. Tipp have had the same management team in place for the last number of years so they are quite comfortable with each other. They are a strong team who always hurl well during the league.
‘Waterford will be just as tough an assignment, especially with a new management team on board so we will have to be ready to meet both challenges.’
A developing Cork team may not have gotten the credit they deserved after losing an All-Ireland semi-final to Kilkenny last year.
‘The All-Ireland title is Cork’s main objective every year,’ Murray concluded.
‘Once players and management don’t lose track of where we want to go, that’s the key thing for me. Does winning a league title give us more confidence? Of course it does.
‘Yet, we never won the league in the four years we claimed All-Ireland titles. At the end of the day, the league will be about progressing as a team, finding new players and understanding the principles of our play and how we want to play.’