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GOLDEN ERA: Paul Flynn, Waterford, in action against Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Cork, in the classic 2004 Munster final in Thurles. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
GOLDEN ERA: Paul Flynn, Waterford, in action against Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Cork, in the classic 2004 Munster final in Thurles. Picture: Ray McManus/SPORTSFILE
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O’Sullivan: The Cork team and squad have improved since last year

John Horgan

Hurling

CORK selector and former star player, Diarmuid O’Sullivan believes that no great significance should be attached to Tipperary’s heavy loss to Galway in the recent national league final.

The Cloyne club man was Cork’s managerial representative at the launch of the Munster championships at Muckross House in Killarney last week and he believes that it is all about getting your own house in order and not looking over your shoulder about what the opposition does or does not do.

“One defeat in 14 games, is that a fair reflection, I don’t think so, you cannot read a whole pile into it.

“Look, what we have to do is ensure that we are doing our best and we are doing that.

“It’s up to Tipperary to get their house in order and it’s the same with us and if our house is better than theirs on the day we’d be delighted.’’ 

Sunday’s showdown in Thurles town is a repeat of last season’s opening round clash with Cork having few fond memories of a 0-22 to 0-13 defeat.

Again the Cork selector believes that there’s no point on reflecting on something you cannot change now.

“That is a day that won’t come again, that’s gone, it does not interest us. If I had to worry about all the games that we lost in the past it would be a long evening, there’s no looking back like that.’’ 

 Cork selector Diarmuid O’Sullivan during the league. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Cork selector Diarmuid O’Sullivan during the league. Picture: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

So have Cork improved as a team and a squad since last season?

“I’d like to think that we have, yes absolutely.’’ 

And does the fact that Cork did secure a win over next Sunday’s rivals in the recent group stage of the league have any relevance.

“No, absolutely not, that’s like the championship defeat last year. We take each game on its own individual merits, we review it, we analyse it, see what we can get out of it and then park it, it’s gone.

“The league is gone, not interested. We had a few good wins in it and at the end of the day it’s a results business.

“That’s what we are judged on, that’s how we judge ourselves and to see how we can develop the process and we won’t change that process.’’ 

Winning the Munster League, coming second in a hugely competitive Division 1A of the national league and introducing a high number of U21 players to the squad, the year thus far has gone positively enough, something that O’Sullivan acknowledged.

“There’s no doubt about that, you can’t hide that away. We believe the panel is gelling better on and off the field.

“You take the older lads, teaching the younger lads for time management, college stuff, work etc and that’s great to see them mentoring the young guys.

“There are pressures now days but it works both ways, the younger lads pushing the more experienced guys in training and it has gone very well in that regard." 

The question was posed on the proposed re-vamp of the Munster championship, a round-robin format from next year onwards but, right now, that’s not of any huge concern, according to O’Sullivan.

“It’s Munster championship time, something that we were reared on. I remember Seanie O’Leary saying back in 2000 when he had to miss a game that he treasured his Munster medals more than anything. It is what it is now, we are coming up to the Munster championship and that’s where you want to be.’’ 

Dublin manager Ger Cunningham with Cork selector Diarmuid O'Sullivan. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Dublin manager Ger Cunningham with Cork selector Diarmuid O'Sullivan. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

It’s a new world these days for the Cork selector, now he’s inside the white line on the pitch as compared to manning the full-back berth for so many successful seasons, is there a huge difference?

“It has taken a bit of time, I suppose. But I’d be a lot more comfortable since the turn of the year.

“Last year was a feeling out process for all the management team. We brought in John Meyler this year and he has been a big addition. I think as a management team we have gelled better, we are doing things differently that we might not have done in the past.

“As much as we analyse the lads out on the pitch, we analyse ourselves equally and we try as a management team to improve ourselves. 

“It made absolute sense to bring John (Meyler) in. He’s the U21 team manager and you just had to have somebody in both parties with so many players from that squad in with the senior team.

“You just have to have it that way.’’

A number of those U21 players are in serious contention for a starting places on Sunday, most notably Mark Coleman, Luke Meade, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Shane Kingston.

Coleman was one of Cork’s best players during the course of the national league while the other three secured some fine scores along the way.

The introduction of so many young players has certainly energised the squad but now comes the ultimate test for all of the players.