Wednesday 20 September 2017

Canty: Rebels can rebuild in second tier

Canty: “I would hope there’s an awful lot to come from that talented U-21 side and it would be good to have consistent performances in Division 2.
Canty: “I would hope there’s an awful lot to come from that talented U-21 side and it would be good to have consistent performances in Division 2." Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile

Michael Verney

Cork legend Graham Canty believes slipping down to Division 2 offers Peadar Healy an ideal opportunity to rebuild the ailing Rebel footballers this season.

Losing their place in the League's top tier before suffering a shock Munster SFC semi-final defeat to Tipperary made 2016 a year to forget on Leeside, but the 2010 All-Ireland-winning captain is optimistic about what the future holds.

With their U-21 side reaching last year's All-Ireland decider, Canty expects the likes of Sean Powter and Michael Hurley to continue their graduation, while steering clear of big hitters like Dublin and Kerry affords other new players more opportunities and time to adapt to the senior ranks.

"Ideally you want to be playing the highest level of football available to you but it's not going to hugely negatively affect them, it's still competitive. And it'll allow you to rebuild as well," Canty said as he launched the Play Us GAA game-organising App.

"It allows you to expose more players on your panel to a higher level of football that they weren't exposed to before. Cork used a high number of players within the League last year and I expect them to do similar this year.

"But maybe towards the end of the League it'd be good to see if they had more of an idea about who is their strongest 15, who is their strongest 26. That can be a very difficult thing to when you're in transition.

"I would hope there's an awful lot to come from that talented U-21 side and it would be good to have consistent performances in Division 2; to get out of it would be a plus and then maybe we could set our sights on a Munster final."

Paddy Kelly's retirement left only seven of the 20 players who helped claim Sam Maguire seven years ago still involved but Canty, a three-time All-Star, doesn't feel there's huge negativity surrounding Cork football and expects positive results to breathe fresh life into this side.

He also paid tribute to his former team-mate Kelly, describing him as the "transition link" between defence and attack when they were regularly competing at the top.

"He did that naturally, he kept up the pitch and didn't allow himself to be sucked down. He'd hold up the ball but he could also attack and do damage. Paddy was a very natural ball carrier," Canty said.

"His ability to give a perfectly weighted pass to someone was his best attribute, he had a natural timing which would give the receiver the chance to go through a gap rather than being creamed."

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