Never played minor and hurled one year U21 but now Daniel Kearney's a Cork senior

The diminutive midfielder praises JBM for the faith he’s shown in him.

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

HE NEVER PLAYED minor for the county and his U21 career stretched to two championship appearances in 2010.

It wasn’t until 2012 that he made his senior championship bow and not until last summer that he nailed down a regular starting place in the team.

But Daniel Kearney, who will turn 25 in December, never wavered in his efforts to forge a Cork hurling career. His 5′ 9 frame has not impeded his development in becoming a vital cog in the Cork hurling machine. He tips his hat in the direction of one man for support.

“I definitely owe Jimmy (Barry-Murphy) for picking me the first time,” says Kearney. ”I don’t think too many managers would have had faith in me. I suppose I hadn’t really been given the opportunity to show off my skills.

“So I’m delighted that Jimmy took a chance on me and that builds your confidence then when you’re playing one game after the other.”

Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

He used a few auditions to put himself in the shop window. A broken thumb meant he missed out on the concluding stages of UCC’s Fitzgibbon Cup win in 2012 but Kearney did enough at third-level to impress.

His club hurling also informed Barry-Murphy’s judgement. In 2008, Kearney’s first year out of the minor ranks, he won a Cork senior medal with Sarsfields as they bridged a 51-year gap. That kickstarted a run of glory that yielded further titles in 2010 and 2012.

“We were lucky enough to get to a lot of semi-finals and finals with Sars so that all gives you exposure to the high-pressure games. Thankfully Jimmy saw enough in them to think that I would be a good intercounty hurler.

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“He went a bit against the grain with his thinking there because at the time a lot of players were big and physical and everybody was saying that that was the type of player you needed in midfield. Jimmy had his own ideas and thankfully I fitted into them.”

John Mullane and Daniel Kearney Daniel Kearney in action in the AIB Munster club championship for Sarsfields against John Mullane's De La Salle. Source: Neil Danton/INPHO

Kearney has rewarded that show of faith. He’s performed at a high consistency over the past two campaigns and this summer has dovetailed wonderfully with Aidan Walsh in the middle for Cork.

“We fulfil different roles. Aidan understands how I play and what I do and I understand how he plays. The way we set up, everybody has to buy in to the system that we play. If we have one player not obeying the system, it messes it up for everybody. It can really expose the team.”

Tipperary is the next challenge on Sunday. Kearney was part of a Cork U21 team pipped by the county in a Munster semi-final after extra-time in 2010. He watched that Tipperary team of stellar talents – Cahill, Maher (three of them), McGrath and Barry – go on to experience hurling riches.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“We were up three points and they got a goal and won the All Ireland,” recalls Kearney. “We definitely let that one slip. It was a big disappointment because we knew how close we were.

“We took a lot of confidence from that game too though, to know that we could compete with lads who’d just won the All Ireland. They had that ability to close out games and maybe some of our players just hadn’t learned that yet. We didn’t have that winning instinct to kill of games – that’s only developed over the last two years I’d say.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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