Seamus Harnedy ready for another hectic summer
By Cian O'Connell
Seamus Harnedy acknowledges that so many valuable lessons were learned during a thrilling 2018 Hurling Championship.
It was the first year of the new summer format with critical matches arriving thick and fast.
Though it was taxing, Harnedy took ample satisfaction from the fact that Cork claimed a second successive Munster title before losing a gripping game at the All Ireland Semi-Final stage against Limerick.
"Going into it there was a lot of scepticism, a lot of talk, it was hard to know what was coming," Harnedy recalls.
"We’d experienced something like it in the League for a couple of years, but it was very demanding, very tough on the body.
"I think the GAA have done the right thing this year by giving a bit of a break in the middle. I thought it was a fantastic year for hurling, I thought the Munster Championship last year was one of the best if not the best we’ve ever seen."
Harnedy believes it should be similarly hard fought for the next month too.
"As I say, I firmly believe Munster has never been stronger, and each team getting four opportunities - each team can have a subpar performance - hinge on one performance. It’s unbelievable to have that, and it’s the best way forward.
"You have no excuses, to get into the All-Ireland series. You’ve had four chances to get through so you have to hold your hand up if you don't take it. No excuses.
"Last year I didn’t know what to expect but I think in retrospect it was a wonderful success, and I think the one criticism hanging over the Championship has been rectified in the sense that that break has been brought in for this year."
With the schedule Harnedy, who recently returned to action following a back ailment, stresses the value and requirement of ensuring there is significant depth to the panel.
That is an area John Meyler sought to address during the Allianz Hurling League. "Absolutely, and John emphasised that after last year’s Championship and in the League, the need to blood some new players, and thankfully he’s done that," Harnedy admits.
"With the Fitzgibbon Cup going on alongside the League campaign there was an opportunity for him to bring back a couple of experienced players who sat out a year or two.
"I think he has done it very well, every squad now is gearing towards the 20-man game, so he’s identified that. There’ll be no Championship won with just the 15 players - every game could be a 20-man game, and John’s really worked on that."