independent

Sunday 22 September 2019

O'Connell simply living in the moment

Cork 1-16 Kilkenny 0-13

Cork players from left James Copps, Barry Murphy and Tommy O’Connell celebrate after the Bord Gáis GAA Hurling All-Ireland U20 Championship Semi-Final match between Kilkenny and Cork at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise, Laois
Cork players from left James Copps, Barry Murphy and Tommy O’Connell celebrate after the Bord Gáis GAA Hurling All-Ireland U20 Championship Semi-Final match between Kilkenny and Cork at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise, Laois

Diarmuid Sheehan

Tommy O'Connell was the stand-out player in Cork's All Ireland semi-final win over Kilkenny last Saturday afternoon with a personal tally of 1-10. The Midleton man gave a man of the match winning display from start to finish and was as accurate from play as he was from placed balls.

Kilkenny really couldn't handle what O'Connell had to offer on the day as he rampaged all over the attacking third while also linking well with his fellow attackers.

Speaking after the game the young rebel star was delighted with the win, especially after losing the provincial final not long before.

"It was an absolutely great game and it is brilliant to be back in an All-Ireland final again. We had a chart after the Munster Final game and all the lads said look we need to park that and not to think about that. We needed to think positively going into this one."

While O'Connell may have been the stand out performer on the day the East Cork man wasn't taking all the glory himself, instead choosing to spread the praise to the less celebrated artists of the game.

"All the lads played well. Everyone has a job in this team. If it wasn't for the doing the dirty work down the back I wouldn't have got a chance to score so it really is just a team effort and everyone pulled their weight and got the result there at the end."

O'Connell's goal was one of the main moments of the tie and the hugely talented attacking wing-forward was again keen to spread the praise to someone else.

"I got the ball from one of the lads and it broke well for me.

"I shot and it went in off the keeper so it was a bit lucky really and unlucky for the keeper so I am just happy to get it."

Cork were very positive in the opening period and led at the turn but Kilkenny hit them back on the restart to lead for the first time, but O'Connell and his teammates didn't panic.

"We just thought to stay positive and think that things will start coming eventually. We always do that kind of stuff in training, people putting each other under pressure and setting standards for each other and that paid off in the end and we are just delighted to get the result."

The thoughts of an upcoming All-Ireland Final might phase many but O'Connell was clear that his side will first need to deal with winning the semi.

"We will park all that for a while and enjoy this win. We don't care who we play we just need to focus on ourselves."

Cork will now need to come down before they start to get themselves up again for what could be the defining game in many of these young player's careers - but for O'Connell, the future looks to be very bright indeed.

Corkman

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