BY GER McCARTHY
CORK begin their Munster GAA football minor championship campaign in Limerick next Wednesday evening with a significant West Cork presence on this year’s panel.
Entering his second year as a Cork minor football selector, Paul Holland admits the Rebels’ build-up for their trip to the Gaelic Grounds has been less than ideal.
‘Our preparations have been a bit disjointed, to be honest,’ commented Holland.
‘Rochestown, Clonakilty and Ballyvourney have been heavily involved in schools’ competitions recently. Twelve members of our training panel are involved with them and the entire squad has had U21 and minor club commitments right up to this week.
‘All of our players have been extremely busy so we, as a group, haven’t completed the work we would have liked heading into the Limerick game. They are all great lads who look after themselves properly so we will be as ready as we can for the challenge ahead.’
There is a strong West Cork presence on this year’s inter-county minor panel and Holland is hoping some of the Carbery division’s in-form players can have a positive impact despite hectic schedules.
‘Clonakilty’s David Lowney has dual minor inter-county commitments resulting in an incredibly busy schedule this year,’ said the Cork minor selector.
‘David is an elite player at the minor grade and one of the county’s emerging talents so hopefully he can build on last year’s impressive showing and become a prominent player for Cork.
‘Hopefully he will come through unscathed from the (Cork) minor hurlers clash and available to us for the Limerick game.’
Ilen Rovers’ Stephen Leonard lit up this year’s West Cork U21 championship and if injury-free could play a similarly important role alongside David Lowney.
‘No doubt Stephen is a talented player and has been given a good foundation by Ilen Rovers,’ noted Holland.
‘He picked up a knock in the U21 semi-final loss to the Haven so we (Cork selectors) are hoping that injury clears up in time for our first-round clash.’
Hopes are high that a talented Cork minor panel will build on last year’s quarter-final placing and reach the business end of this year’s All-Ireland series.
If the recent Clona Milk West Cork U21 championships are anything to go by, Holland and his fellow selectors have an abundance of talented minors to choose from.
The 2015 minor panel will hopefully include decent representation from a strong Carbery division and overcome Limerick before setting their sights on the Munster title.
Paul Holland was a selector for manager Donal O’Sullivan during last year’s inter-county campaign which began with a resounding 6-15 to 1-7 quarter-final defeat of Limerick in Páirc Uí Rinn. Castlehaven’s Michael Hurley contributed 2-4 that evening and was instrumental in Cork’s subsequent 1-14 to 1-8 victory over Waterford.
Old enemies Kerry were Cork’s opponents in the Munster final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on July 6th on an afternoon the Kingdom ran out 2-17 to 2-13 winners.
The Rebels had to wait over a month before travelling to Semple Stadium for an All-Ireland quarter-final clash with Dublin. The Leinster side emerged victorious 2-14 to 1-13 to end Cork’s year on a losing note but Holland is hopeful this year’s squad can improve on the county’s 2014 showing.
‘We are looking for a win over Limerick and the scoreline is immaterial, to be honest,’ admitted the Cork selector.
‘Progressing in the championship is all that matters. The tough games the Cork U21s endured in recent weeks has certainly focussed our minds but all we can do is go up there and do our best against Limerick.’