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O'Dwyer: Playing in Páirc will stand to Cork U20s

February 18th, 2023 10:00 AM

By Southern Star Team

O'Dwyer: Playing in Páirc will stand to Cork U20s Image
The West Cork contingent involved with the Cork U20 footballers. Back from left, Pat Prendergast, Carthach Keane, Richard O'Sullivan (Newcestown), Conor Daly (Clonakilty), Olan Corcoran (St Mary's), Tomás O'Mahony (Castlehaven), Oisin O'Sullivan (Kilmeen), Paddy O'Driscoll (Gabriel Rangers), Jack Kevane (Carbery Rangers) and selector John Hayes (Carbery Rangers). Front from left, manager Bobby O'Dwyer (Macroom), selector Ollie O'Sullivan (Garnish), Niall Kelly (Newcestown), Peadar O'Rourke (Carbery Rangers), Chris Kenneally (Clonakilty) and Dan Twomey (Ballinascarthy).(Photo: George Hatchell)

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CORK U20 football manager Bobbie O’Dwyer feels that his team should reap the benefits of playing in Páirc Uí Chaoimh after they opened their John Kerins Cup campaign with a draw against Laois.

Olan Corcoran of St Mary’s got the late equaliser last Saturday to tie the game at 1-11 each while there are games to come against Galway and Roscommon as the team prepare for the Munster championship.

With little chance to work with the squad in full due to school and college commitments of players, O’Dwyer was pleased to have avoided injuries.

‘We had so many fellas involved with UCC and UL on the Thursday night, after playing three or four games already in their championship,’ he says.

‘They had a league campaign before that and then trying to play on the Thursday and the Saturday was tough. We had lads with Rochestown [who reached the Corn Uí Mhuirí final] and with Mitchelstown, who were in a B Munster final. The key thing is to try to get through these few weeks without picking up any more injuries.

‘We ran lads for 30 minutes and others for the last 20 minutes. We haven’t had a session with everybody available, so when you’re chopping and changing like that, tactics go out the window really.

‘Now, over the next couple of weeks, you can start to develop a system of play and get lads to be the best they can be and all of that, which couldn’t be done up until now, unfortunately.’


There is a strong West Cork flavour to this year’s squad and the backroom team. Dan Twomey (Ballinascarthy), Richard O’Sullivan (Newcestown), Jack Kevane (Carbery Rangers), Paddy O’Driscoll (Gabriel Rangers), Niall Kelly (Newcestown), Conor Daly (Clonakilty) and Olan Corcoran (St Mary’s) all started against Laois, while Tomás O’Mahony (Castlehaven), Peadar O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), Chris Kenneally (Clonakilty) and Oisin O’Sullivan (Kilmeen) all came on.

‘It’s funny how it goes,’ O’Dwyer says, ‘in last year’s group there were a lot of North Cork lads but there aren’t as many this year.

‘I think, of the fit players we have at the moment, there are slightly more West Cork lads in it and there’s a good crop of city lads. Unfortunately, due to injury we’re missing two of our better lads from Nemo Rangers – Ross Corkery and Bryan Hayes.

‘We’re picking the best that we can see out there – if fellas are good enough, they’ll be picked no matter where they come from.’

Being denied the availability of some players naturally means that others get an opportunity, but the lack of preparation time can lead to issues during games.

‘It’s great that you’re getting game-time into lads,’ O’Dwyer says, ‘but then you go into the problem then that you might have six fellas who were at training last Tuesday night when you were working on your kickouts and you’ve another six who weren’t at training.

‘The six lads that were at training are going into a zonal system, the other six are going man-to-man, they’re all looking at each other then and saying, “Which are we supposed to be doing?!”

‘It’s getting them all together. We are where we are now and we’ll get that sorted over the next couple of weeks.’

And having the chance to play in Páirc Uí Chaoimh was very welcome, in the eyes of the manager.

‘It was brilliant, we were delighted,’ he says.

‘It’s the home of Cork football and hurling and it was great to get in there. Some of the lads who’ve been playing with senior clubs would have played there previously and for others it was their first time ever playing there.

‘An important thing is just getting to familiarise yourself with it. When you go into a new pitch, while you’re still taking a 45 from 45 metres out, it still looks different and you want to get used to the bounce of the ball.

‘We were thrilled to be able to play that game in there.’

If Limerick beat Waterford in the Munster quarter-final, Cork will have home advantage against the Shannonsiders at the semi-final stage. The U20 football is unique among the Munster under-age competitions in that it’s the only remaining straight-knockout competition – O’Dwyer would like more games but he accepts the reality of the situation.

‘My own view is that this is a developmental age,’ he says, ‘so the more games that these lads can play, the better.

‘This is not crying, because it’s exactly the same for every county, but if you want to develop fellas, you have to have them playing in as high a level for as long as possible.

‘As it stands, you only have them for February, March and April at the moment. The All-Ireland final, if you make it that far, is the second week in May.

‘That’s just three months and it’s very hard to mould a team together in that time, particularly if they’re going to be going into your senior set-up in the next couple of years and getting used to the standards required for inter-county football.

‘That’s part of the purpose of why you have an U20 competition.’

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