Tuesday 11 December 2018

Meyler hopes additions can eradicate Rebels' squad weaknesses

Meyler: Finding a fuller squad. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Meyler: Finding a fuller squad. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

The main criticism that was thrown at Cork following their crushing All-Ireland semi-final defeat to eventual champions Limerick was a lack of squad depth, but Rebel boss John Meyler hopes he has addressed that deficiency over the winter.

Cork legend Diarmuid O'Sullivan was one of many to highlight his surprise that injured stars Seamus Harnedy and Daniel Kearney returned to the pitch having already been substituted due to injury in that extra-time loss to the Treaty.

That underlined the sparse changes to the Cork starting 15 and those called upon off the bench throughout their championship campaign but Meyler believes he has strengthened the panel of the back-to-back Munster champions.

Former captain Stephen McDonnell, All-Star footballer Aidan Walsh and Cormac Murphy have all rejoined the squad while young guns such as Ger Collins, Ger Millerick and Robert Downey also get their chance in the senior fold.

"We looked at the whole of 2018, dissected it, and we saw what we needed and required. We need to strengthen the panel and we need to strengthen the team. And we have tried to do that and, please God, we will," Meyler said.

"Stephen was captain there in 2016 and '17. He brings massive experience to the squad. It is great to have him back and have him focused on 2019.

"I wanted Aidan two years ago but couldn't get him because he was playing football. I came across him in a primary school's game a good number of years ago. He is a tremendous athlete. He is a huge boost, a huge addition."

Despite falling at the penultimate hurdle, Meyler views 2018 as a "success" while acknowledging that it "will just take another couple of steps" to get to the summit for the first time since 2005.

That doesn't mean an All-Ireland title will the focus at the expense of a third successive Munster crown, however, and he envisages 2019 to be even more cut-throat than the epic hurling year just passed.

"We'll be going out to win every game. You go out to learn from games, you need to realise benefits from games. You need to put those in practice, and then for the following game," he said.

"We're not going to throw away a Munster championship simply because we want to get into the All-Ireland quarter-final. That's silly. We'll try win every game and try reap benefits from every game. 2019 is going to be ten times harder than 2018 because it will be more competitive and everyone is looking for their pound of flesh.

"You want to be one of those three that come out of the Munster championship. That's really it."

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