# Rebels Return
Cadogan's injury comeback plan, hectic fixture schedule and new roles for Cork hurling greats
Coach Ger Cunningham on Cork’s prospects as the new season is set to begin.

CORK ARE HOPEFUL that Alan Cadogan will return to action at some stage during next spring’s league campaign following a hip operation and intend to utilise the early parts of the 2020 season to trial new players as their squad is set for an influx of young talent.

alan-cadogan Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Alan Cadogan in action for Cork against Kilkenny in July. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

A new era under the stewardship of Kieran Kingston commences for Cork next Friday night, 20 December, when they play Kerry in the Co-Op Superstores Munster hurling league. That’s their first official game in the 2020 campaign before they face Waterford on 29 December.

Cadogan and Christopher Joyce, who tore his cruciate for the second time in his career in August, are the two long-term injury absentees currently for Cork.

Seven members of the team that lost heavily in the All-Ireland U20 final to Tipperary in August – Ger Collins, Sean O’Leary-Hayes, Ger Millerick, Robert Downey, Tommy O’Connell, Brian Turnbull and Sean Twomey – will be involved in the senior setup. Downey already lined out in this summer’s senior championship.

Cork are conscious of the heavy workload facing some of their players with the local U21 championship still ongoing and a hectic Fitzgibbon Cup schedule in store in January.

“Christopher got the cruciate done but from what I can gather, he’s working away behind the scenes to get ready,” says coach Ger Cunningham.

“He’d be one long-term injury. Alan Cadogan would be another long-term injury that you’d hope at some stage during the National League would be able to get some game time. It’s his hip, he’d a hip operation after Douglas went out of the championship this year, he went off in their game against Sars.

Co-Op Raheen Small 5-12-19-92 Cork PETER PIETRZAK PETER.P.PHOTOS@GMAIL.COM Ger Cunningham (right) at the launch of the Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling League. PETER PIETRZAK PETER.P.PHOTOS@GMAIL.COM

“It’s going to be challenging. We’ve 20 lads that are going to be involved in the Fitzgibbon Cup, that starts on 12 January. We have 14 players with UCC, some with CIT, some with Waterford, some with Limerick. Potentially they could have five matches if you’re successful in the Fitzgibbon and then you’ve got two National League matches in the middle as well.

“So it’s going to be a very busy time for players. We have to manage that well. We still have guys involved at club level. Fr O’Neill’s have been successful and the U21 hurling championship at club level is still going on in Cork. We’re still waiting on that to be finished before we get everyone together.

“Over the next couple of weeks and months, the Munster league gives us a chance to look at guys to see where they’re at and if they’re ready to take the next step. Young guys need to see an opportunity to get on the Cork team and be able to play in it.

“We’ve seven or eight of this year’s U20 team. Some of them involved from last year, some new in. Hopefully that they’ll be over the next period of time – year, two years, three years – that they will be good enough to step up because that’s what has to happen.”

tommy-oconnell Tommy Dickson / INPHO Tommy O'Connell in action for Cork in the All-Ireland U20 final in August. Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

Cunningham admitted a return to the Cork managerial ranks was not something he had been planning. He had coached the team for the 2012 and 2013 seasons before taking over as Dublin boss from 2015 to 2017.

“It’s great. It’s something that I hadn’t really planned on but at the same time to get an opportunity to be involved with the Cork senior team is brilliant. I’m delighted. I would have known Kieran a long time and would have worked with him in 2012 and 2013 with Jimmy.

“He’s a good guy. When he asked me to do it, I’d no hesitation really. We’d worked well together, I’d seen how he operated. He’s a good passionate man about Cork hurling. So delighted to get that opportunity.

“After Dublin I had gone back involved a bit with the Barr’s minors this year. My own two lads were underage so I just wanted to give them a bit of time. I’d been away for a couple of years and wanted to see could I help in their development along the way. I’d got back involved with UCC as well last year. So it kind of came out of the blue really.”

kieran-kingston-and-ger-cunningham Cathal Noonan / INPHO Kieran Kingston and Ger Cunningham after the Cork-Dublin 2016 qualifier. Cathal Noonan / INPHO / INPHO

The former Cork goalkeeper hailed the standards reached by side’s new captain Patrick Horgan.

“He’s been phenomenal. Just a brilliant hurler. For a guy to get nominated as Hurler of the Year when Cork got as far as the quarter-final, it’s just a testament to the year that he had. Again watching from the stands, it was just a privilege to watch him and hopefully he can build on that and bring that level of performance next year as well.”

Cunningham is enthused about the current state of Cork hurling and the involvement of former stalwarts in new roles with county underage sides.

“Looking at it there’s been a lot of talk around town and it’s great to see some of the guys that were the last Cork team that won a senior All-Ireland. That successful team of 03-06 getting involved, it’s now they’re back in.

“I think Donal (Óg Cusack) is still playing but I think most of them have kind of retired from playing. Now they’re going on to the next level of coaching. So I think it’s great from a Cork hurling point of view that they’re able to find the time to give something back to it.

“It has improved. I think you can judge, the minor final a couple of years ago and now in U21 and U20 finals the last two years. Even though we didn’t win them, it’s great we’re back competing and involved again.

“I think that’s a credit to the work that’s been done over the last number of years at Rebel Óg with the development squads and hopefully this is the start of emerging talent and guys coming through that would be able to hopefully make the step up to senior.”

Bernard Jackman joined Murray Kinsella and Sean Farrell in studio to chat about the remarkable John Cooney and the Ireland captaincy. 

The42 Rugby Weekly / SoundCloud

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