To date, 2017 has been an incredible year for Cork hurling. They’ve already collected silverware in Munster, beating Tipperary, Waterford and Clare along the way and the Rebels can now dare to dream of All-Ireland glory.
Under Kieran Kingston, Cork have a new-look starting XV. Although they are young, athletic and quick, arguably their best overall trait is their skill and, as a neutral, it’s a pleasure to watch. One player that epitomises the Cork team this year is their 19-year-old wing-back Mark Coleman, who has been astonishing in this position.
While the GAA world has been somewhat amazed by the performances of the Rebels during this current campaign, the thing that is more amazing is the players that could be lining out.
In this article, we go through a list of Cork men that would get a place in a lot of county teams throughout the land given they committed and/or were injury free.
5. Eoin Cadogan
At this stage of his career, it is well known that Eoin Cadogan is an able hurler with dominant strength, size and high fielding attributes. Unfortunately for Kingston’s side though, after many years of being a dual-player Cadogan opted to venture only with the Cork footballers in 2017.
For the footballers, Cadogan played just eight minutes of this year’s Munster Football Championship as an injury destroyed the Douglas defender’s hopes of playing in the quarter-final and semi-final against Waterford and Tipperary respectively.
4. Patrick Cronin
In 2013, Cork went on a memorable run to the All-Ireland final where they faced Davy Fitzgerald’s Clare. That year, Cronin, now aged 30, captained the Rebels and played an influential role throughout their run. In 2016, Cronin was cut from Kingston’s panel, in arguably what was a statement of intent that the newly-appointed manager would invest heavily in the product of Cork’s youth.
Even at 30 though, Cronin could still prove a danger to the opposing side in the full-forward line and would undoubtedly make it onto a lot of other county panels throughout the country.
3. Aidan Walsh
Like Cadogan, Walsh also opted to commit solely to the Cork footballers in 2017, and it definitely makes one think if he is beginning to regret that decision now considering the terrific run of form the hurlers are on.
Certainly, Walsh would be an incredible asset to the Cork set-up if he opted to return, more than likely finding himself a place in midfield. Walsh’s speed, high fielding and dominance in midfield, alongside the impressive Darragh Fitzgibbon, would make a formidable partnership.
2. Lorcán McLoughlin
In this year’s campaign, Lorcán McLoughlin has been struggling to find game time under Kingston’s watchful eye. McLoughlin, now aged 27, came to prominence during the 2014 run to the All-Ireland final, where he performed to the highest level when it was needed most.
The Kanturk local is not entirely exempt from this year’s panel, as he’s often on the match day squad but with the continued progression of Mark Coleman and Fitzgibbon at his preferred positions of wing-back and midfield respectively, it’s obviously going to be difficult to guarantee a place on the team.
1. Paudie O’Sullivan
Younger brother to Cork selector Diarmuid O’Sullivan, Paudie suffered a similar faith to Patrick Cronin in 2016. It was a brave decision, as over the years O’Sullivan showed that he was well-capable of performing on the big day.
The full-forward, who made his debut at 18, is now aged 28 and has accumulated a total of 6-28 in 21 championship appearances for the Rebels. The likes of Alan Cadogan, Patrick Horgan, Seamus Harnedy and Conor Lehane already have a place set in stone, however with Pebbles’ eye for goal, he could definitely prove a valuable asset coming off the bench.
As youth and success are on the squad’s side at the moment, it would be difficult to question Kingston’s decisions to omit the above players.
With the average age of their Munster final starting XV being just 24.6, it is evident that this young Cork side will be around for another while yet – but if they are looking for talented and experienced players, they have that too.
Certainly, if anything, it makes you realise that the Rebels really do have a terrific selection to pick from and that when one player isn’t in form, there will definitely be another to step up and perform.
Jason Redmond, Pundit Arena
We’re joined by Shane McGrath on the latest episode of The 16th Man.