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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 6 August, 2020
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'I suppose the time when the GPS came into the training tops I began to suffer'

Former Cork star James Masters on calling time on his intercounty career at just 27.

Masters is hoping to guide Nemo Rangers to Munster glory at the weekend.
Masters is hoping to guide Nemo Rangers to Munster glory at the weekend.
Image: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

FORMER CORK STAR James Masters says he has regrets about retiring from the Rebels at the age of just 27 but acknowledged that he doesn’t fit the physical mould of a modern elite player.

The Nemo Rangers man, now 33, was honest about his shortcomings ahead of Sunday’s AIB Munster club football final against Clonmel Commercials of Tipperary.

He was the prolific attacker that Cork built their forward line around during the late 2000s and he competed in two All-Ireland finals, scoring three points in the 2007 decider.

But just months after his second All-Ireland final appearance, in 2009, he retired following a lack of game time in the 2010 Allianz league.

Cork went on to win the first of three Allianz league titles in a row that season as well as the All-Ireland and though Masters admitted ‘it was a hard enough time’, he impressively accepted why he may have been overlooked by then manager Conor Counihan.

“”I suppose there definitely would be (regrets),” said Masters. “It was a hard enough time because Cork would have obviously won the All-Ireland and so many players that I played with won medals. Half of you was willing them to win but obviously when you’re not involved you’re not there and that’s very hard.”

“I suppose the time when the GPS came into the training tops I began to suffer!” he smiles.  ”I’ll be honest, I actually remember one training session and they said to me, ‘You only run fast when you’re getting the ball’. The likes of Daniel (Goulding) and Colm (O’Neill) were making the continual three or four runs at 90 per cent and I was making maybe two runs at 40 per cent.

“But, look, everyone is different. My best attributes are that when I get the ball into my hand at close range, I can shoot straight off the bat, no bouncing. It does work at times and I think if you go through my record in the Munster club, it’s been phenomenally good.

“I don’t know why but I seem to love Munster club championships. Maybe it’s the time of year and everyone is slowing down a bit. But definitely it’s a time of the year I enjoy. I think I got two Munster club Player of the Year awards and I just hope I can play on Sunday.”

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Masters told another warm tale of playing against Monaghan while on Cork duty and sensing the disparity in physical conditioning between he and his marker.

AIB GAA Club Championship Leinster Hurling & Munster Football Provincial Final Media Day Nemo Rangers'’ James Masters is pictured alongside Michael Quinlivan from Clonmel Commercials ahead of the AIB GAA Munster Senior Football Club Championship Final on the 29 November in Mallow at 2pm. Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

“You’re marking thoroughbreds now, you could be on the worst corner-back in the world but you’re trying to push away from him and you’re feeling a six pack while he’s grabbing a bit of (fat) around your waist!” smiled Masters.

“I remember marking your man from Monaghan, Dessie Mone, and I remember the first ball between us and he was grabbing at my hips and saying, ‘You have a bit of fat there, do ya?!’”

Various injuries including a troublesome hip problem mean Masters isn’t guaranteed a start against Clonmel. He didn’t feature in the semi-final win over Killarney Legion though shot 1-5 in the quarter-final defeat of Waterford’s Stradbally.

He said that the club odyssey has come as a huge boost to Nemo despite their rich heritage as seven-time All-Ireland champions. Before this season, they hadn’t won a Cork county title since 2010.

“I think it was definitely one of our sweetest,” said Masters. “We celebrated it as if it was our first in 40 years. I don’t really know what went wrong. The backbone had kind of gone out of the team. The likes of Derek Kavanagh, Martin Cronin, Alan Cronin, massive names in club football, they finished up. It took us a while to recover.”

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Paul Keane

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