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'Let's be honest, we don't train and we can't train. We'll meet up, pick our panel and go from there'

Cork All-Ireland winner Tom Kenny on the different challenge when taking charge of county semi-finalists UCC.

The UCC team who won the 2020 Fitzgibbon Cup, some of those players now chase Cork title.
The UCC team who won the 2020 Fitzgibbon Cup, some of those players now chase Cork title.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

TOM KENNY CAN appreciate the curious and unique scenario he faces.

For most managers after a victory in a county hurling quarter-final, there would be a focus on training ground work and an examination of any shortcomings ahead of the upcoming semi-final.

It’s a different experience for the two-time All-Ireland winner and the UCC team he has helped guide to the last four of the Cork senior title race.

The striking dynamic at play impacts on Kenny’s plans after last night’s win over Na Piarsaigh and ahead of their semi-final with Blackrock.

“I’d like to say we’ve things to work on but it’ll probably be in the next game before we do that. It’s fine. Let’s be honest, we don’t train and we can’t train.

“We’ll meet up, pick our panel and go from there. They’re with their clubs and things like that. We don’t go back to the training ground on Tuesday night and try to work on things. It’s still enjoyable. The only thing we want from the lads when they come is to give it everything, not to go through the motions.”

Kenny pays tribute to the commitment displayed by his players. The debate over UCC’s participation flares up in seasons like this, the current bunch are largely spearheaded by Cork players with Kerry, Tipperary, Limerick and Waterford representatives also in their starting side last night.

15 years ago Kenny was on a team that shocked the then reigning champions Na Piarsaigh. He operated in a different position last night and praised those who had turned out, particularly with some having faced a championship encounter the night before.

tom-kenny-2102005 Tom Kenny in action for Cork in the 2005 county senior hurling semi-final. Source: ©INPHO

Limerick’s Paddy O’Loughlin had lost a county senior semi-final with Kilmallock at the Gaelic Grounds but was back manning the central defensive berth in Páirc Uí Rinn.

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“At the start of the game you could see the lads were a bit leggy who had games. That’s fully understandable. We were just hoping they’d get through the game as best they could and they did.

“You could see it in Paddy as well, his mind was probably still back up in Limerick in that game last night. The best thing to shake off a game like that is another game. Once he got in and got it out of his system, he’d a fantastic game for us there. The Blarney lads probably had a great bounce in the manner that they won last night.

“All over the years we see who we have the weekend before, see who’s playing games and formulate a plan from there. Who’s coming? Who’s travelling? Who can make it? If a fella has a game on a Sunday, be it in Cork or wherever in the country, we’re not going to put too much pressure on him to line out again. We have a lot of Cork representation this year, probably more than other years, which is great and that’s what we set out to do at the start of the year with the whole Covid issue.

“It’s anyone’s championship now with Imokilly gone but we’ve a formidable challenge next against the Rockies.”

Kenny will assess again next week who he can utilise. Waterford senior Neil Montgomery was tied up at the weekend with football duties for Ballinacourty. There will be seven of his players in opposition this Saturday in a Cork premier intermediate semi-final between Blarney and Carrigaline.

Before then Kenny will see another role step up in intensity. He’s part of the Cork minor hurling brains trust, fronted by manager Donal Óg Cusack and with another All-Ireland winning compatriot involved as well in Seán Óg Ó hAilpín.

Inter-county training finally gets the green light to resume this week.

“We’re due back training this week, what shape that’ll be with dressing rooms and things like that we don’t know. I think it’s four weeks to our championship game so we’ll have a few sessions, a few games and try to get the lads back in together and doing their thing.

“It’s probably going to be awkward if you’re togging out in the stand. That’s tough, especially going into the winter months. But looking forward to it, we’ll see how it goes. It’s going to be a different style of championship than the height of the summer, playing away in mucky conditions in October.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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