Tuesday 21 August 2018

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‘We’ve a point to prove’

Wednesday, 1st August, 2018 4:52pm

It's fair to say there was little or no appetite for hurling on Leeside on Monday morning.

It's hard to pick yourself up after the disappointment of Sunday's agonising All-Ireland semi-final extra-time defeat, but for Cork's Mark Coleman, reflection on Sunday's loss will have to go on the back burner for the time being.

In the hectic world of Coleman, there simply isn't time for a hurling hangover. Instead the 19 year old has to pick himself up and prepare this week for a second All-Ireland semi-final in the space of seven days, this time against Wexford in the Under 21 championship.

Getting out on the pitch, however, has given the Blarney youngster a welcome focus in one of the hardest weeks he's faced in his short career.

“It's been tough this week; it took a day or two to get the body right after Sunday and it's a case of re-focusing yourself. I think it's good we have the match on Saturday to be honest, it gives us something to think about beyond Sunday – that result's going to hurt for a while but we've Saturday to think about now.

“We were down the Mardyke on Monday and we did a bit of work in the pool and the gym and we did a bit of light training on Tuesday. Everyone is okay after Sunday and we've no injuries or anything like that to worry about which is good. I'm feeling fine myself, so we'll be more than ready for the game at the weekend.”

Heads are still being scratched on Leeside over Sunday's loss. Cork were six points clear with seven minutes to go but somehow managed to surrender their lead before being defeated in extra-time. Facing the scrutiny of the media just a couple of days later is no easy take for Coleman; his hurt is clearly evident, but he pulls no punches in his assessment of the game, they gave it their all but Limerick were deserving winners.

“I think it was more a case of Limerick winning it rather than us losing it. Those last ten minutes we gave away a few silly frees and they really put it up to us, they had a purple patch and just drove on from there, they took the game to us and got a win – their bench had a huge impact as well.”

The hope, of course, is that the loss will stand to this talented bunch of players, for Coleman talk of next season is far too soon, however.

“Of course you'd hope that it'll stand to us, that we'll learn from the loss and have gained experience as well but it's too early to even think about next season yet to be honest, we were so disappointed with Sunday so it's hard to get beyond that for now.”

Coleman is in a rather peculiar position, he's not even 20 yet and has played just two seasons with the senior hurlers but is an integral member of the side. A Coleman-less Cork team doesn't bear thinking about at this stage. He is clearly enjoying his hurling going on his spectacular displays in the Munster championship.

Munster, however, has been clouded out by the fog that descended after Sunday, losing is just too hard to take this early on regardless of Coleman's and Cork's success in the lead-up.

“Ya I guess it's been a good season so far, two Munster titles so that's good, but Sunday has kind of put a black mark against this year to be honest – that's why we've to think about Saturday now and the game and Wexford, it's a quick turnaround so this week has been about managing that and getting ourselves right for the game.”

Cork, clearly, have a point to prove in Saturday's game, having not featured in an All-Ireland Under 21 Final since 1998. Coleman, along with Shane Kingston and Darragh Fitzgibbon, all started last Sunday's game while a number of players, Jack O'Connor, Tim O'Mahoney and Robbie O'Flynn, all featured – that's six players who have to get the head and the body right ahead of this huge test.

For Wexford, they'll still be hurting from a Leinster Final loss to Galway that came only after extra-time. Having forced extra-time with a last second goal, Wexford looked to have the game won coming down the home straight only for Galway to steal the win with a dramatic last-gasp goal to win the game by a point.

Coleman and co are only too aware of the mighty task Saturday, and Wexford, brings: “They're a great side (Wexford), they're very hard working and they'll have a serious point to prove after losing the Leinster Final like that. I think for ourselves, we've a point to prove as well. This group has suffered some bad losses over the last few years, so the Munster win was badly needed I think - it gave us a huge confidence boost. We know what we have to do on Saturday but look it's a semi-final, you've to win that before you can even think about a final.”

The Bord Gáis Energy Hurling Under 21 All-Ireland Semi-Final takes place on Saturday 4 August. Throw-in at Nowlan Park is at 4pm.

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