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Today's Result Shows Why Cork's Next Manager Choice Is So Crucial

Today's Result Shows Why Cork's Next Manager Choice Is So Crucial

When asked this week, former Cork hurler and manager Ger Cunningham was in no doubt about the ability of his county's current crop at U20 level.

"This team would have been seen all along as one of the teams that could do it. They lost a minor final two years ago and would have been disappointed."

Disappointment that had returned after Cork's quarter-final loss against Kilkenny in Croke Park. The county needed a lift and today's U20 semi-final success against the same opposition will have delivered it.

Speaking at the Bord Gáis launch prior to these games, Cunningham was clear. It was all riding on the U20s.

There’s a general acknowledgement that there’s a lot of work being done underage. It is beginning to turn. But probably we’d like to see a bit of success at the end of it, trophy wise.

For everyone’s confidence, and there’s a lot of hard work being done, people put a lot of effort in there. They’d like to see reward at the end of it and we haven’t had minor success or U20 success or senior success for double-digit figures. You’d just like to see the reward at the end of it, for the public and supporters that would be trophies.

A 1-16 to 0-13 victory was secured today in O’Moore Park. It's a result that will rise the Rebels with young prospects like Tommy O'Connell, who finished with 1-10, and Ryan Walsh shining.

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It'll prove a welcome boost for whoever takes the reigns from John Meyler. After two years at the helm, Meyler confirmed he was stepping away this week opening the door for a new appointment. That appointment could be crucial.

2018's semi-final loss undermined a critical need for further depth and Meyler duly went about unearthing it.  Stephen McDonnell returned, as did Aidan Walsh. Further reshuffling saw Darragh Fitzgibbon trialled at wing-forward in a challenge game against Dublin and once again against Westmeath in a preliminary quarter-final.

Yet come that quarter-final only McDonnell remained. Walsh was an unused substitute, Fitzgibbon returned to midfield. Patrick Horgan tried to carry the fight himself but his 3-10 was not enough.

There is no shortage of candidates with Kieran Kingston, Dónal Óg Cusack, Ben O'Connor, Pat Ryan and Diarmuid O'Sullivan all in the frame. It is not about rocking the boat but finding a steady hand for the tiller.

In 2018 the U21's provided a welcomed boost with Darragh Fitzgibbon, Mark Coleman and Robbie O'Flynn all kicking on. Cork need the same again and soon. Otherwise, the likes of Patrick Horgan will retire without an All-Ireland, a situation Cunningham was keen to see avoided.

It would be a crying shame. He's been phenomenal the last couple of years. He's gone to a new level and has been absolutely brilliant. You'd hope that a situation where... We came so close in 2013 and the point he got that day looked to be a defining moment one. He was going to get his medal and here we are heading into seven years later and he still doesn't have one.

There's a pressing reality about Cork's next appointment. A need to marry the old with the new seamlessly. The squad is building but needs a final push now, the next manager has to be capable of bringing it.

SEE ALSO: The Irish Olympic Boxing Dream Team Of 2012: Where Are They Now?

Maurice Brosnan

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