O'Sullivan takes great dividend from big investment
Diarmuid O’Sullivan appeared in five All-Ireland senior hurling finals as a player with Cork, winning medals at full-back in 1999, 2004 and 2005.
Now, the Cloyne man is a selector under Kieran Kingston as the Rebels seek to end the 16-year wait since that latter victory when they go up against Limerick at Croke Park on Sunday.
It’s O’Sullivan’s second spin in the job, having also been part of Kingston’s kitchen cabinet in 2016 and 2017, but when the opportunity arose to come back, he jumped at it.
Speaking at Cork’s media day last weekend, O’Sullivan admitted that it’s not always glamorous, but the service is driven by a deep love of Cork hurling.
“It’s not a fashionable gig by any manner of means,” he said.
“Myself, Kieran [Kingston] and Ger [Cunningham] are here since half past nine this morning, what is it now, it’s now ten past three on a Saturday.
“We’ve invested ourselves heavily in this because we believe not only in the players but the group we have around us. We invest all of our energies and spare time into it but it’s what we do, it’s what we want to do, it’s what we love.
“We’re passionate about Cork hurling and we’ll keep giving to it as long as people want us to.”
Prior to his senior role, O’Sullivan was involved with Rebel Óg development squads in Cork. While it is a system that has taken time to come to fruition, he believes that the county is now seeing the benefits.
“Yeah and it’s absolutely wonderful,” he said.
“I was lucky enough, I was over a few successful groups. There’s probably nine or ten of these guys I’ve had, through the development-squad system and that, for me, is very pleasing.
“The guys who I was with back then, it’s very pleasing for them – I’ve spoken to a number of them during the week – for the development coming through.
“We see it not only at this level but the work being done behind us is excellent. A rising tide lifts all boats and Cork hurling can be happy with its progression.”
And that progress was seen most clearly in the semi-final against Kilkenny, when, having lost a six-point lead with five minutes of normal time left, Cork responded to triumph by five in extra time.
“I think we’ve now evolved to the situation where, as a group, they’re very comfortable in dealing with setbacks,” O’Sullivan said.
“Whether that goal happened in the first ten minutes, the last ten minutes or the last play of the game, we’re now at a stage with this group where they can take it on the chin and regroup and settle themselves down.
“They took full ownership and responsibility of it once we hit the dressing room and that’s a credit to how much they’ve grown as a unit.
“You could see it just after the start of extra time, what did Kilkenny do? They identified Tim [O’Mahony] as the guy who was probably responsible for the concession so they pucked the next three puckouts down on top of him. What did Tim do? Caught the ball resoundingly, he drove Cork forward and we got three scores out of it.
“So that’s where we have come as a squad. Yes, we will make a mistake in the type of game that we play; yes, we will get turned over; of course, the opposition will score, but it’s about how we react and what we do after will really define the group.”