CORK football is safe in Mark White’s hands, insists the man who gave the Clonakilty teenager his first senior county championship start in goal with his club.
Former Clon manager Paul Holland had no hesitation in putting then Cork minor White between the posts for the club’s seniors in their Cork SFC Round 2B win against St Nick’s in June 2016.
Two years on the young keeper starts between the posts in Saturday’s Munster SFC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
It’s been a quick rise for the Clonakilty teenager (19) who was surprisingly drafted into the county senior panel ahead of the All-Ireland qualifier loss to Mayo last summer.
But for those who knew little about him then they know all about him know.
He started four Division 2 league games – against Tipperary, Clare, Meath and Down – and the Munster SFC semi-final win away to Tipp.
Paul Holland is not surprised how fast White’s stock has risen.
‘I had Mark with the Cork minors the year previously (2015) so I knew about him before I came to Clon. I knew how good he was and the potential he has,’ Holland said.
White was a minor in 2015 and ’16 and as soon as he was eligible, Holland made him Clon senior football’s number one.
‘He’s six foot four or more, a big physical presence even though he’s a young man,’ Holland explains.
‘He is a good all-round goalkeeper – he’s well able to save down low even though he is a big, tall man, he’s good in the air and a very good shot-stopper.
‘Mark’s a bright young fella, well able to take instructions and he has the ability to carry them out then.’
Then there are White’s kick-outs. In past seasons Cork football goalkeepers have struggled with varying kick-outs – but there should be no problems for the Clon number one.
He can kick short or long.
‘If you were playing against him in the morning I don’t know what you would do. Mark has the ability to mix it well,’ Holland explains.
‘If you push up he can send it long over your head. If you stay back he can find short ones very easily.
‘From Ronan McCarthy’s point of view he is the ideal young player to be working with for the development of Cork. Mark will only get better.’
Saturday’s Munster final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be a new experience for White, who is also Clon’s junior hurling goalkeeper and played outfield for the club’s U21 footballers, but Holland doesn’t think he’ll be fazed.
‘He won’t have faced anything like the Munster final on Saturday – but 99 times out of 100 he’s cool and calm,’ Holland says.
‘We’re all human, there are bound to be nerves there, it’s a big day but he has to remember to stick to basics and when he does that he is very good.
‘His consistency is great for a guy his age.’
White beat off competition from Kiskeam’s Anthony Casey and Skibbereen’s Ryan Price to start against Tipp in the last round, with the latter duo also featuring in the league.
White gets Holland’s vote to keep hold of the jersey.
‘I might be slightly biased but I would have had in there from the start of the year,’ he says.
‘I think other keepers have had their chance and Mark and Anthony Casey are probably the two guys we are looking at to mind the goal for Cork for the next couple of years.
‘It’s great to have that competition and they will be hopping off each other – and the other goalkeepers won’t give up easily either.
‘Overall Cork are in a good place regards goalkeepers for the next few years.’