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Sean O’Donoghue: The Inspiration from Inniscarra

November 28th, 2022 12:00 PM

By Matthew Hurley

Inniscarra club man Sean O'Donoghue will captain the Cork senior hurling team for 2023.

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BY MATTHEW HURLEY

THIS has been quite the year for Sean O’Donoghue.

After winning the Cork Premier IHC title with his home club Inniscarra, he capped off his memorable season by being named the new Cork senior hurling captain for 2023.

New Cork boss Pat Ryan has clearly seen something in O’Donoghue – and it’s something former ’Scarra manager Ger Murphy has seen for years.

‘There’s a great bunch of lads but he’s still a leader there. He was captain in 2019 and 2020 and he was with Cork at that time,’ Murphy told The Southern Star.

‘Sean is a very good man to talk. He’s the guy at training half an hour beforehand, the first fella that will be there. His whole career is epitomised by that. His dedication and work rate is fantastic, you can see the shape he is in. That doesn’t come from nowhere.’

For the Muskerry club to be the home of the Cork senior hurling captain is a source of great pride.

‘When I was growing up, I’d say there was nobody from our division on the Cork senior team. I think Sean is the first fella from Inniscarra since Pat McDonnell in 1971 to captain Cork,’ former boss Murphy said.

‘Sean’s family would be very much involved in the club. His father is at every single match, he’s probably the biggest influence in his career by a mile. You’d be delighted for them.’

 

After winning the county premier intermediate hurling final against Castlemartyr in dramatic circumstances, for Inniscarra’s main man to get the nod to captain the inter-county side caps off a brilliant end to the year.

‘We would have realised he was vice captain last season when, I think, he had his best ever year in a Cork jersey. The extra ounce of being vice captain obviously had a very positive effect on him. With new management, we would have been hoping he’d have a chance of being captain,’ Murphy said.

‘For Inniscarra, he’s been an integral part of the team. It’s never a situation where he is the only inter-county player, he’s one of the lads. He’s the same on the pitch as off the pitch. Nothing more than that. Whatever is asked of him, he’ll do,’

This isn’t the first time Sean O’Donoghue has captained an inter-county team. In 2017, he captained the Cork U21 footballers. A year previous, he won a Munster football title at that grade before appearing in an All-Ireland final. He also captained Inniscarra in 2019 and 2020.

‘When Sean was coming through, we were more of a hurling club but a lot of people might have said Sean was a better footballer underage. He works so hard, he could have made it at either grade. He operates as a midfielder or a forward for us,’ Murphy explained.

The impact O’Donoghue has on the younger generation is important, too.

‘I remember one evening, there was a lad up there with his 11 or 12 year-old son pucking around. He came down to me and said his son was pucking the ball to Sean O’Donoghue, the Cork senior hurler. This was unbelievable stuff. That’s a pure sign of Sean around the club, he’s always willing to play with any young fellas or help with any team,’ Murphy said.

‘Everytime Sean goes down, he’s signing autographs, he’s getting selfies taken and he’s always willing to give time. Whenever Sean is asked to do drills with minors for example, he’ll say no problem. The intensity then goes up so high because they’re trying to impress Sean O’Donoghue. He’s an absolutely fantastic role model. For our club he’s invaluable. It’s not only what he can do on the field but off it too.’

O’Donoghue usually plays either midfield or in the forwards for his club and that’s shown by scoring 3-10 from play in this year’s Cork PIHC. For Cork though, he has established himself as a key member in the full-back line.

‘In the past, you may see him come out the field for Cork but what’s happened is he’s gone in there as a corner back. Initially, we wouldn’t have seen him as a corner back but he’s willing to work at any position he is played. He could quite easily come out the field. He’s so lively and an integral part for Cork at this stage that it’s very hard to see him being moved out the field,’ Murphy said.

The question now is, can the ’Scarra star become the first Cork captain since Seán Óg Ó hAilpín in 2005 to win the All-Ireland SHC?

‘You would only have to dream of that for a little while. It would be brilliant for Cork hurling, unbelievable for the O’Donoghue’s and Inniscarra,’ Murphy said.

‘Cork were in the final two years ago, they’re not that far off it. In Pat Ryan, they have a fantastic manager. It could just click in his first year. Who’s to say next July that the Liam McCarthy Cup might be coming back to Inniscarra.’

 

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