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Friday 24 January 2020

Hoggie a leader says O'Mahony

Young gun determined that Rebels step it up

Cork’s Tim O’Mahony
Cork’s Tim O’Mahony

Leader by deed and now Leeside commander too. Patrick Horgan has been handed the captain's armband for the 2020 season and one of Cork's younger brigade, Tim O'Mahony, is backing their new skipper to revel in the extra responsibility.

"Patrick leads by example every day he goes out onto the field. His performances last season were nothing short of outstanding," O'Mahony proclaimed, speaking ahead of Cork's Co-Op Superstores Munster Hurling League opener against Kerry in Mallow tomorrow night (7.30).

"It is up to the rest of us to up our performances to get up to his level and, if we can do that, it will stand to us."

Mesmerising

Horgan, 31, has won three of his four All Stars in the last three seasons and was nominated for Hurler of the Year in 2019 despite Cork's quarter-final exit to Kilkenny, against whom he shot a mesmerising 3-10.

But while 'Hoggie' appears to have reached a career high in his thirties, O'Mahony insisted: "Maybe people didn't take notice (before) because I think he has been doing that for many years.

"When we were small fellas going to matches, you would have looked up to him. He was still putting in the massive performances. It is unreal the way he is so consistent now.

"He is a leader in every meaning of the word, really. The main way you want someone to lead the team is by performances, not talking."

O'Mahony, who turns 23 next month, was given his senior break by John Meyler and spent the past two seasons threatening to establish his first-team tenure, be it at half-back or further upfield.

Ultimately, though, he made more championship appearances off the bench and he's keen to "get on the pitch as soon as possible" now that Kieran Kingston has returned to the Rebel hotseat.

"Munster League is coming up - we are playing Kerry," the Newtownshandrum man noted. "Once upon a time, it might have been a game for a couple of young lads to get a run.

"But panels are so competitive that if you get a run in the Munster League, and play well, and then you get another game and play well, people start talking. And then you get a chance in the (National) League and if you can hold your place there, you're looking forward to the Championship."

O'Mahony has been rehabbing an ankle injury in recent weeks and conceded that "the Kerry game might come a small bit too soon for me. If not, I'll be hoping to be right for the next game. The Munster SHL is gone fierce competitive … so you have to be selfish in that regard too."

Meyler, who resigned after this year's surprise defeat to Kilkenny, suggested that his group never fully recovered from their "heartbreaking" semi-final loss to Limerick in 2018.

O'Mahony ventured: "It is not that I disagree as it was a very tough game to come from, obviously, but you have to move on.

"Limerick got the bounce of the ball that day. Fair play to them, they won the All-Ireland. We weren't far off. I wouldn't say we haven't recovered from it. No one died."

Likewise, O'Mahony doesn't buy the theory that Cork's favouritism against Kilkenny last July conspired against them.

"We weren't going in with the idea that we were hot favourites. When you come up against Kilkenny, you know what you get every day of the week," he demurred.

Next summer will see Cork's All-Ireland famine stretch to 15 years. "People kind of get bogged down in it, thinking about the years," he reflected. "If anyone won the All-Ireland series, would you be really surprised? There isn't much between the teams. If a team could get a few wins together, especially with the new format, you get a chance to get a bit of momentum going and I think that's it really."

Especially if a certain thirtysomething assassin is still shooting the lights out …

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