Monday 18 December 2017

Conor O'Sullivan: I had enough losses last year, I want to win a few things now

Cork corner-back Conor O'Sullivan
Cork corner-back Conor O'Sullivan
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

It may have been regarded as a great season for Cork but, on the eve of another hotly-anticipated Munster Hurling Championship, corner-back Conor O'Sullivan is desperate to erase 2013 from his brain.

There are many who would regard reaching a Munster final and playing in two All-Ireland finals as a pretty good year, but failing to win any of the three made it an unsatisfactory campaign for O'Sullivan – and what happened afterwards only added to his anguish.

He's still only 25, with three county senior titles already under his belt with Sarsfields, but he reckons the week after last year's All-Ireland final replay loss to Clare was "one of the worst I ever put down".

A rapid turnaround found him straight back into club championship action against UCC but a straight red card in the late stages ruled him out of the quarter and semi-finals.

"A few weeks off, then back for the county final and we lost that too!" he says. "I threw the hurleys away after that and didn't pick one up again until January.

"2013? Relegation, lost a Munster final, lost an All-Ireland final and lost a county final. That was enough (losses) to keep me going for the rest of my life, I want to win a few things now."

Things have hardly been plain sailing since either.

A groin injury that he originally picked up this time last year forced O'Sullivan to miss the entire Allianz League and he has undergone a very lengthy "and very boring" rehab that included getting several injections.

"It was a bit of a dose alright, it was the middle of April before I returned but I've a good five weeks behind me now and that's all you'd need really," he says.

O'Sullivan has magical memories of watching Cork versus Waterford in championship action as a fan.

"I'd say some of the best games of the last 10 years have been between them, there hasn't been a boring game between Cork and Waterford in a long time," he notes.

"I remember in 2004 (Munster final) when John Mullane got sent off, and the year before (when the latter scored a hat-trick but Cork won), and when Brian Corcoran got the drop goal (in 2005)."

In the last 12 championship games between the sides the biggest winning margin was five points (Cork's in the 2005 All-Ireland quarter-final) and now O'Sullivan gets a chance to experience what he hopes will make up for last season.

"I never want to see Clare again, so it's brilliant to be playing Waterford," he says. "They're a brilliant side, a lot of them went to college in Cork and we'd know them; it's two young enough teams.

"I don't care if no one is talking about us," he adds of the surprising lack of credit that Cork have received for their 2013 achievements.

"There was loads of talk about us last year as the season went on but we're happy enough with no one talking about us now again. We were probably a bit green. We weren't able to kill games off when we got a chance.

"But now we have that big-game experience – Munster final, full house, two All-Ireland finals, full houses. Even the semi-final against Dublin was huge, and so was the Kilkenny game. There's only one way to get that experience."

Irish Independent

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