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"There's One Thing In Life I Still Have To Do" - John Meyler Is Ready To End Cork's Famine

"There's One Thing In Life I Still Have To Do" - John Meyler Is Ready To End Cork's Famine

For most hurling counties, 2005 doesn't seem that long ago. In Cork, it's an eternity. Not in 100 years have the Cork faithful waited this long for a Liam MacCarthy. If no title comes by 2020, they will equal the longest drought in their history. If they don't win it next year, it'll be the first time in the history of the game a decade will have gone by without a Cork All-Ireland. Their manager John Meyler is keenly aware of the history and traditions of his adopted home county.

I was aware of Cork every time I looked at that photograph at home in my father's pub of 1956 when Wexford beat Cork in the All-Ireland final. I'm aware of all of those icons of Cork hurling, of Mick Cashman, Christy Ring, Tony O'Shaughnessy, all of those players. I'm aware of that culture.

Cork need to be at the top table all the time. People won't be happy next year with two semi-final losses. They'll now need to see a further step and that's our challenge and that's our main goal next year.

John Meyler was born and raised in Wexford, but went to college in UCC in 1974 and never left. He became more Cork than the Corkonians themselves. Going on to play with the famous "Barrs" club in Togher and for his new county, he's had a long and storied GAA career, which spanned from captaining his club to an All-Ireland football title to managing Kerry to a win in the Munster Championship.

This year, 44 years after first moving to Cork, he got the big job. Cork senior hurling manager. His first year was eventful to say the least.

As part of our #WeAreHurling series with Centra, we sat down with John Meyler in his home club in Togher and talked about his life in the game, from his earliest memories to his very much unfinished business with Cork.

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Not long after his team's extra time defeat to Limerick in the All-Ireland semi-final, you got the sense Meyler was still not the better for it by the time we sat down for the interview. It was a cruel way to lose a game, with a big lead going into the closing stages. But after two exciting years with a fresh, young team, you get the sense they are not far away. And Meyler certainly believes it too.

The feeling of rebirth in Cork hurling over the last two years has been stark. Following a few disappointing years, they were back with a bang in 2017, and the Cork public were more than ready for it. Meyler can feel the excitement around the county and feels he has the team there to back it up.

It's that Corkness, it's that red, it's that sea of red that was in Thurles there this year, and in all of the Munster Championship matches. I think Cork people realise that it's coming.

I think there are young buds, young shoots coming. I think Cork people realise that. They see the youth that's coming, and the talent that they have - Coleman, Fitzgibbon, Kingston, Sean O'Donoghue, Luke Meade, all of these players. Jimmy (Barry-Murphy) won an All-Ireland with young players way back.

I think Cork people see that. It's a reflection of Corkness, it's a reflection of red, and that's what they have been brought up on, a tradition of winning.

After two semi-final losses in the last two year to follow consecutive Munster titles, asked if he's aware of the pressure that will rise on this young team if Cork don't get to that next step very quickly, Meyler is under no illusions at all about the pressure and expectations of his job.

There's a massive expectation next year. Even this year, there was a huge expectation because we won the Munster Final last year. That expectation increases this year, and certainly next year. So we're aware of that, we're conscious of that, and people expect that. So there's going to be enormous pressure on next year.

He's had a career playing and managing that has spanned over four decades, and has achieved more than most in the game. So what's his favourite day? Again, Meyler is single minded.

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I haven't reached it yet. There's one thing in life I still have to do, and once I do that, I'll be happy.

There has never been a hurling decade that didn't have a Cork All-Ireland win. 2019 is their last chance to keep that streak alive. It would be hard to back against John Meyler and this team.

 

 

You can watch  interview with John Meyler in full here, and the rest of the #WeAreHurling series, featuring interviews with Jamie Wall, Padraic Maher, Ger Loughnane and Derek McGrath here.

Stay tuned later in this week for the final installment with Michael Duignan.

 

Michael McCarthy

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