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'You were extra vigilant in taking advice on board': Cahalane credits The Rock for full-back gains

Cahalane and Cork face Clare in the Munster SHC final on Sunday afternoon.

Damien Cahalane: ever-present at full-back for Cork.
Damien Cahalane: ever-present at full-back for Cork.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

CONFIDENCE, BOTH INDIVIDUALLY and collectively, has played a key part in Cork reaching back-to-back Munster SHC finals, according to full-back Damien Cahalane.

On Sunday, the Rebels clash with Clare in the final in Thurles (2pm), having been the only one of the five counties not to lose a game in the round-robin section of the competition. Cork coach John Meyler has pointed to the character of his team in helping to get them out of tight situations and Cahalane, ever-present at number 3, believes that confidence goes hand in hand with such a strong resolve.

“You have to go into every game confident in your own ability,” he says.

“If you are not confident in your own ability, to go out and get a performance – you might as well not go out. We are confident in our preparation and confident that we have done everything right to put ourselves in the best position.”

On a personal level, Cahalane has developed strongly and he affords credit to another Rebel full-back – Diarmuid O’Sullivan, a member of the Cork backroom team in 2016 and 2017 – in helping him to improve, along with a parallel growth in personal confidence.

“I suppose myself and Sully would be fairly close now,” he says, “he was very good with me in terms of the coaching he did with me over the last few years.

“I’ve a huge amount to thank him for, growing up as a Cork supporter, Diarmuid O’Sullivan was always a huge figure. When you got to be coached by him then, you were extra vigilant in taking advice on board from him.

“Definitely, everything that he has worked on with me over the last few years has been carried on this year.

“It was specialised coaching in that position as well, which was great, but a lot of it came from confidence too, and that came from management and when I got a vote of confidence from the Cork public and that probably fed into how I was playing afterwards.”

This year’s Munster championship began for Cork with a five-point win over Clare in Páirc Uí Chaoimh but Cahalane expects to face a very different animal on Sunday – especially as they have built their confidence in the interim.

“I wouldn’t think the first match has any relevance, to be honest,” he says.

“I knew going into game one against Clare, we knew that we would have to bring our A-game to get a performance against them. And even at that, you are still not guaranteed getting a result.

“They have improved in the meantime and we are going to have to go up and beyond what we did the first day. It is a whole new game, a game on its own merits and we just have to try and get a performance the next day.

“A huge thing for them, you can see the last couple of games, is their confidence. They seem to be very confident in what they are doing, they have one or two fellas coming back from injury which will be a big added bonus to them. I think the main thing now is they are playing with confidence. That has been their major improvement.”

Off the field, Cahalane is a busy man too, having recently opened a bar on Hanover St in Cork. While some players may not enjoy having to listen to customers talk sport, it’s not a problem for him.

“We are open nearly three weeks and it has been going great,” he says.

“We have had great support from the Cork public. I’m really happy with it, hopefully it’ll continue.

“I’ve done a bit of work behind the bar but mostly I am managing the place. We have good staff inside there, that have given me a great opportunity to live out my passion of playing hurling for Cork and for the moment, that is the priority with the Munster final coming up. I have a huge amount of praise and thanks for the staff for letting me do that.

“A lot of people don’t like talking about hurling outside of hurling but at the end of the day, I am a sports fan as well so I don’t mind chatting about Cork.”

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Denis Hurley

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