Maguire and Deane ready to make midfield mark for Cork
Cork's McGrath Cup win over Limerick in Mallow last Sunday marked the start of a new beginning for the midfield partnership of Ian Maguire and Ruairí Deane.
Both have been hampered by injuries in recent times, with Maguire not having played for the county since the Allianz League game against Monaghan last February, while it was Deane's first game in Rebels red since the 2014 Munster final.
A persistent back injury hampered Maguire for most of 2015, and then when that healed he picked up an ankle problem, so to get back on the field was a relief.
"I'm delighted," he said. "I went back with the club (St Finbarr's) last summer, but I picked up ankle injury so I was lost for club championship as well. I am just delighted now; I got pre-season training in me and I am back for the McGrath Cup.
"I had a back injury in December 2014 and it just came at me when I got on the bus against Monaghan. I was struggling with it all summer. I was training away, but I could never get match fitness. We got knocked out against Kildare and that was it."
The road to recovery is often a lonely one, but Maguire was keen to remain positive.
"It was all rest, there was a small bit of medication too," he said.
"Then it was all gym, strengthening the different parts of your body. It was learning. I learnt from it and I will never take football for granted again. That is for sure. You think everything is ahead of you and then an injury brings you down.
"It is frustrating in the sense that I was training away and I felt I was getting it right, but then something would come up. Two weeks before the Munster final, you are training away and I had to pull out of training as my back came at me.
"Every time the Championship was dangling in front of me, it kept getting pulled away from me.
"Then we had junior championship with the Barr's and sure I broke my ankle a week before we were due to play Castlehaven.
"I was coming away from games thinking, 'I am never going to get right'. You just have to keep your head down. All the boys supported me and winter is done now. McGrath Cup, National League; I cannot wait."
For Bantry Blues man Deane, an injury in the spring of 2014 was initially feared to be cruciate ligament damage only for him to then receive the all-clear. However, after coming on as a first-half sub against Kerry in the 2014 Munster decider, the ligament gave way.
"It was around nine or 10 months out," he said. "It takes a lot of time to get back into match intensity and I kind of thought I was ready last year, but maybe it was a bit beyond me.
"I had a couple of games with the college (IT Tralee) there so I wasn't too bad, but it must be tough for lads finished in August trying to come back and play a game there in January.
"It is a great opportunity to get ready for the League but it is also an opportunity for fellas to show what they are made of.
"There are a few fellas who have come into our panel there and they are getting a great opportunity to stake their claim.
"Last year didn't work out as well for me as I had hoped, but hopefully I will get a fresh start here and work from the beginning of this year; this is my first McGrath Cup with Cork so we will take it from there and hopefully get a belt at the League as well."
The Leinster Council have announced changes to the venues for three of tomorrow night's O'Byrne Cup clashes.
Westmeath and Longford and Laois and Carlow will now take place in St Loman's and O'Moore Park respectively at 7.30. Westmeath were originally expected to bring Longford to Tubberclair while Crettyard was due to host Laois' game with Carlow.
Offaly take on DIT in the Meath GAA centre of excellence in Duganny with throw-in time moved to 8.0.
(7.30 unless stated)
O'Byrne Cup: Dublin v IT Carlow, Parnell Park; Wexford v DCU, Enniscorthy; Kildare v Louth, Hawkfield; Laois v Carlow, O'Moore Park; Meath v UCD, Simonstown; Westmeath v Longford, St Loman's; Wicklow v Maynooth University, Ballinakill; Offaly v DIT, Dunganny, 8.0
McKenna Cup: Fermanagh v St Marys, Brewster Park, 8.0; Antrim v Queens, The Dub, 8.0.