Diarmuid O’Sullivan: Cork U21s will end 20 years of hurt on Sunday

Having coached a lot of the current Cork crop, Diarmuid O’Sullivan gives his thoughts on the All-Ireland Under 21 final on Sunday…

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Taking an overall view, for Cork people this game is huge. I know it’s the U21 grade – but it’s a massive match.

1998, 20 years ago, was the last time The Rebels won it and I was lucky enough to be involved back then. That’s a long time to wait and Cork hurling does need this title.

We have wonderful ability and young talent in Cork, but now is the time to capitalise.

There’s a very strong Cork panel there, when you look at some of the more accomplished minors from last year who can’t even get into the squad – that’ll show you the strength in depth that is within the set-up at the moment.

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I had some of these Cork players from 15 or 16 years of age and I was lucky enough to be involved in a senior set-up with some of them.

But I will say this – like the Limerick scenario before the All-Ireland senior final – do not pressurise this group because of another management or team’s failings.

Give them the opportunity to go express themselves and hurl like everyone knows they can, without the added expectation of all this ‘want, want, want’, ‘need, need, need’ stuff from the supporters.

The time is right and this group WILL win, so let’s look forward to what’s going to be a great day out.

They need to approach the game thinking ‘we need to make a bit of history for our group’, forget about past groups – this is their time.

Win will boost Cork’s senior stars

I remember the night down in the Gaelic Grounds that Shane Kingston broke his leg against Limerick.

Losing Shane probably cost Cork an All-Ireland minor that year, so this group now will see themselves as having a right shot at putting things right.

They’re even better players now and you can’t underestimate the power of winning. No matter what competition it is, the confidence you get from winning is massive.

Having that All-Ireland U21 medal in your back pocket makes you believe you can kick on further next year, onto bigger and better things.

I believe there is enough experience in that Rebels squad to know that complacency can’t be a factor. It’s a new game, a new competition and there’s a new prize on offer.

However, first and foremost Cork need to win the game. They need to approach the game thinking ‘we need to make a bit of history for our group’, forget about past groups – this is their time.

Cahill’s Tipperary are no pushovers

I believe Cork will win it unless something goes critically wrong. Now look, it would be very disrespectful to just brush The Premier County aside.

That wouldn’t be fair to them. They’re Tipperary, they’ve a very strong hurling tradition and they’ve been very successful in this competition.

Liam Cahill is a very proud guy and a win for his side could lead to the senior job for him.

He’ll be looking at that from a personal point of view, but ultimately his aim will be success for Tipperary.

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What do you think?