THE revamped Munster SHC presents a new challenge for every county, not least in terms of squad management as four games are played over a five-week period.
While Cork were without Alan Cadogan on Sunday and will be against against Tipperary, Conor Lehane believes that there are sufficient human resources to deal with players being out.
‘This year, the panel is 10 times more vital, everybody knows that,’ he said. ‘The amount of matches there are and injuries and fellas getting tired at the end of games, but all the subs who came on were unreal.
‘You can tell their attitude is unreal, you see it in training but when you see it done, out where it’s supposed to be, you take a lot of pride in that.
‘It was very unfortunate Alan was out, he’s a top-class player, but our attitude is that, regardless of who’s out, we’ve players to come in, same way if I was out, if anyone else was out.’
While Lehane accepts that starting with a win can never be a bad thing, at the same time, he doesn’t read too much into it beyond the two points, having seen Cork stutter in the league during the spring, despite beating Kilkenny in their first match.
‘Winning the first game is huge, but then we won the first league game at home against Kilkenny and lost every game after that, there’s no rite of passage that says if you win your first game, you’re sorted.
‘There is a bit of pressure off, but next week it’s Tipp, we’ve a few days to recover and we’re back out again. It’ll be an intense game and Tipp are after losing, so they’ll be gunning for road again.’
A year ago, Cork went to Thurles with few expecting them to beat the then-All-Ireland champions, Tipperary, surprising everybody with a 2-27 to 1-26 win. Prior to this year’s championship, the bookmakers didn’t appear to take the Rebels’ status as provincial title-holders into account but that doesn’t bother Lehane.
‘We’re used to it, that makes no difference to us,’ he said.
‘If it was an issue, you’d just be getting caught up in what people say, you’re going to get distracted then from what you should be doing.
‘We try to do our best out there and results take care of themselves then. We’ll just regroup from the Clare game and take what we learned and hopefully apply it for Tipp.’
Lehane’s second-half goal was the product of desire from Patrick Horgan to keep Shane Kingston’s wayward shot in play coupled with the Midleton man gambling that a run goalwards might reap dividends.
‘To be honest, it was one of those shots where you’d have forgiven him if he’d left it off,’ he said.
‘It was just going wide, but in fairness to him, for an ould lad who’s turning 30, he’s still able to jump fairly high!
‘It was unbelievable from him, he had no right going for it, but he still didn’t give up and it just kind of fell straight in front of me, it was more about hitting the hurley and going in than anything, it popped up perfectly.’
Lehane was the player who collided with Robbie O’Flynn before that, with the game held up for nine minutes as the attacker was treated. Was it tough not to lose concentration?
‘A bit,’ Lehane said, ‘but it’s something that we pride ourselves on, really, no matter what situation happens, you just keep focused.
‘When Robbie got injured, everyone got a bit rattled; it was awful. You have to regroup and say, “Look, nothing’s going to change now, we’ll find out after the game,” Robbie’d do the same himself, it’s about a team effort.
‘Thank God he’s okay now, but regrouping and going again regardless of the situation is what it’s all about.’