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John Meyler: 'I think the players have responded to that emotion that comes from the Cork public'

The Cork boss on expectations, the evolution of the hurling manager role and the All-Ireland semi-final challenge.

Cork hurling manager John Meyler.
Cork hurling manager John Meyler.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

JOHN MEYLER DID not need to be reminded of the expectations.

He slipped into the Cork managerial hotseat at the start of this year, the squad fresh off a progressive 2017 campaign that yielded a Munster title and showcased a wave of young talents on the senior stage.

Meyler was clear on what he wanted to achieve as they sought to push on in 2018.

“I just want to win. Any expectation whether what team I’m involved in, I want to win. Whether it’s a game of pool or a game of ludo or whatever, I like to win.

“Cork is a demanding place and the Cork public is very supportive of teams that win. They’ve very supportive of hurling, soccer, football, rugby, whatever sport Cork people are excelling in, the Cork public will support them.

“They want to see Cork winning All-Irelands, Cork has been built on that down through the years. We’ve missed that since 2005, so we need to get back there to the top table again, winning minor, U21, senior All-Irelands.”

Retaining their Munster title last month was a significant step in harnessing that Cork support.

“When you see in Thurles last week and Cork were coming in the middle of the second half and went ahead of Clare and you hear, ‘Rebels, Rebels, Rebels’. These guys understand that and then when they see the red stands up and that’s what I want to see in Croke Park next Sunday, I want to see red everywhere.

“That’s where you get Cork people with the fire and the passion and that exudes onto the pitch and that comes on to the players and the players respond. I think the players have responded to that emotion that comes from the Cork public. That’s that Corkness that comes out, that we are Cork.”

John Meyler celebrates with his son David John Meyler celebrates Cork's win over Clare with his son David. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

It’s 25 years since Meyler steered Kerry to a landmark Munster championship win over Waterford. His management career since has encompassed various club roles and stints with Cork underage teams, along with a second coming in Cork, a spell with Wexford and time with Carlow.

He’s watched the position of a manager evolve dramatically.

“It’s gone from a one-man bad to a 25-man band. It’s gone from an individual to a management structure and the key thing there really is the management structure which we have around us. Really I’m only one of a group.

“All of the inputs are critical. Where you have Kieran (Murphy), Donal O’Mahony, Seanie Barry, Declan O’Sullivan, all the medical people, all the physio people, all the logistics people. Everybody contributes in a way that is not seen.

Kieran Murphy Cork selector Kieran Murphy. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Where the focus is sometimes on the manager, the focus really should be on the management group. If we get everybody working together as a unit and everybody co-ordinated, then we’re better off. I’ve a really good set of people working with me.”

He picks up tips elsewhere as well. His son David’s time in professional soccer environments has helped shape his father’s outlook as well with Cork.

“Sometimes he can be cruel in a sense but he’s cruel from the point of view of support as distinct from being critical. It’s constructive. The Munster final is over, it’s an All-Ireland semi-final, it’s going to be extremely challenging, competitive.

“You know that. You’re going to have to forget about last Sunday against Clare. It’s now Limerick and you know what Limerick are going to bring to the table. So from that point of view, he’s been really supportive.

“To go back to the Munster final and to beat Clare again after last year shows a great sign of character. To be eight points down with a few minutes to go to half-time and then to lead by five going into the last five or ten minutes shows great character. There’s really strong mental toughness, resilience within this group. That really has been evident in the Munster championship.”

Cork celebrate winning the game Cork players celebrate their Munster hurling final victory. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Meyler is conscious of the challenge Limerick pose after the thrilling draw the counties played out in June and watched the impact of their bench in propelling them past Kilkenny last Sunday week.

He is hoping their preparations are tailored effectively this year for the All-Ireland semi-final in comparison to 2017.

“We purposefully after the Munster final, we said we’d take a break, because we had the five matches in the six Sundays, so we needed to get them to go away, recharge, refocus, re-energise themselves.

“I think last year after the Munster final, we went back on the following Friday night and we had four and a half weeks then which is too long. I think last year our tapering down period was too long.

“There’s no way that after the five matches in the six Sundays, that we could training the Tuesday night after the Munster final. We had to take a break, even as management because it took it’s toll both in terms of physically, mentally, socially. So three weeks of intense training which has gone quite well.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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