Cork hope to have Lehane for Tipp clash
By John Harrington
Cork hurling manager John Meyler is hopeful he’ll be able to call on key forward Conor Lehane for this weekend’s critical Division 1A Allianz Hurling League clash with Tipperary.
Lehane was forced off with an ankle injury in Cork’s Round 4 defeat to Waterford on February 25 and at that time looked to be a major doubt for the Tipperary match.
But the extra week’s recovery time afforded to him by the postponement of all of the weekend’s Allianz League action has put him back in the frame for selection.
“Hopefully we'll have Conor back for the weekend,” Meyler told GAA.ie.
“I suppose in one way the fact that the matches were cancelled gives you another week of training and another week of minding injuries and that.
“Hopefully we'll have him for this weekend against Tipperary, that's the plus side of having the weekend off. Other players would have niggles too, and hopefully we'll have Damien Cahalane back too in the next few weeks as well.
“He has a slight problem with his knee but he's doing some light jogging at the moment so hopefully he'll be back in the picture in the next month or so.
Cork won their first match of the League campaign against Kilkenny but since then have lost to Wexford, Clare, and Waterford.
They’ve successfully blooded some talented young hurlers like Tim O’Mahony, Dan Browne, Sean O’Donoghue, and Robbie O’Flynn, but Meyler admits their campaign thus far has been a mixed bag.
“You're never happy,” he said. The only time I'm happy is when you win matches. From that point of view (results), I'm not happy.
“But I'm happy from the point of view of the likes of Sean O'Donoghue coming in and doing well, Eoin Cadogan coming back, Dan Browne and Tim O'Mahony doing well in their matches, and Robbie O'Flynn going well too.
“It's about trying to get the balance right between winning matches and getting one or two players in. It's more difficult in 1A in that sense because we've tried one or two things and if they don't come off then people are critical and you have to be aware of that as well.
“All the games have been ultra-competitive for this time of the year. The four games that we've been involved in have been very competitive.
“The one in Wexford was fierce competitive and with a fierce exciting end to it. You're trying to be competitive and win matches and then you're trying to bring in one or two new players.
“We've seen that with counties where one or two players have stepped up in each county so that's a plus from that point of view.
“But, I suppose, once the League starts to finish up there'll be a change of emphasis.”
That change of emphasis is likely to come this weekend against Tipperary because it’s the pivotal match of the final regulation round in the Division with both teams needing a win to be sure of avoiding a relegation play-off.
“Yeah, it's critical for both teams, really,” said Meyler. “That's it in a nutshell, you've hit the nail on the head. With all the matches, we've tried to win all our matches and be competitive while trying to also get new players into the team.
“But next Sunday is the 11th of March and by now you're trying to get your team right because when it comes to later on in the month there's no games really then unless you get to a League Final where you've one or two more games.”
Tipperary chose to hold key players like Paudie Maher and Noel McGrath in reserve for their last match against Kilkenny when the fat was really in the fire in the closing minutes of that match, but you can be sure they'll play from a full deck this weekend.
“They were probably holding them in reserve for us!”, laughs Meyler. “But, sure, that's the way it is.
“They feel they'll have Cork at home in Thurles and that's the way they're looking at it, that's their choice. We just have to go and get there and try and win and that's it.”