Luke Meade made his championship debut for Cork against Tipperary on Sunday, and boy was it one to remember.
The young Newcestown hurler played the game like a seasoned veteran, helping Cork dictate the pace from the outset. He scored three fine points and gave the Rebels a new lease of life alongside fellow impressive debutants Shane Kingston, who scored 1-4, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Mark Coleman and Colm Spillane.
Kieran Kingston and his management team seem to have unearthed a plethora of talent with these young players capable of setting the summer alight coming through the ranks in Cork. Mixed well with the experience of Anthony Nash, Mark Ellis, Patrick Horgan and Séamus Harnedy, Kingston’s charges are now certainly a force to be reckoned with going forward in the championship.
In Meade, they have a skilled, dynamic forward who will run all day and knows where the posts are.
Speaking to Pundit Arena at the launch of the Bord Gais Energy Under 21 Hurling Championship today, the 21-year-old displayed the quiet confidence and raw fearlessness that, in a way, summed up the Rebels upset win over the All Ireland champions in Thurles.
Was overcoming Tipp something that the fresh faced Corkonians always believed was on the cards?
“Yeah, definitely we thought we could win. You’re never just going into these matches just to be part of it, you always want to win.
“We had a good idea that we had a good chance of winning.”
Faced with the task of marking arguably one of the biggest and best defenders in Ireland on his maiden championship outing in Premier captain Padraic Maher, you would forgive Meade for feeling a little bit daunted heading into the clash. No fear of that, however.
The Mary I student was sent on to the Semple Stadium pitch on Sunday with a job to do and that’s all he had his mind on. The prospect of being followed and harassed for every ball by the towering four-time All Star could not distract him, and admirable trait in such an inexperienced player at this level.
“No, it wasn’t daunting at all to be honest. Going into the match you’re just focussed on the job you have to do, not focussed on who you’re going to be marking or anything like that.
“The back is the one marking the forward, so I wasn’t too concerned with Padraic Maher, to be honest.”
On nullifying the efforts of Tipp’s strong half-back line on Sunday, Meade remains coy and shows his and his Cork teammates feet are remaining firmly on the ground ahead of the semi-final clash with Waterford on June 18th.
“I suppose it’s well known that their half-back line is one of the best in Ireland but I think it’s just the way the game panned out that our half-forward line got on top.
“It’s not really something that we planned too much before the game. Thankfully it just panned out the way out did.
“We’ll be doing the same for Waterford just working as hard as we can in training and preparing as best we can.”
There has been an excitement re-ignited in Cork hurling fans for the first time in a number of years following Sunday’s win coming off the back of a couple of barron years in the small ball wilderness, and the support and enthusiasm of the public does not go unnoticed by Meade and his fellow young newcomers to the panel.
“It was important to get a feel-good factor back in the county.
“Last year didn’t go too well but hopefully we can push on this year and the fans will be happy with our displays.”
Luke Meade is pictured at the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy GAA Hurling U-21 All-Ireland Championship launch in Dublin today. Follow all the U-21 Hurling Championship action at #HurlingToTheCore.