Cork’s Damien Cahalane looking forward to Waterford test
Defender’s mind turns to clash with holders following Rebels’ opening loss to Galway
Cork’s Damien Cahalane: “ If you lost the first game, you do want to win the next one and I suppose we are just looking forward to it.” Photo: James Crombie/Inpho
Damien Cahalane nodded when he heard that Waterford had caused the first minor upset of the season by toppling All-Ireland champions Kilkenny. The Cork wing-back hadn’t even made it as far as his dressing room after playing in the Rebels’ 1-15 to 1-21 defeat to Galway. Next Saturday night, Waterford – newly promoted to Division One and current title holders – will visit Cork.
“I didn’t hear that result but I wouldn’t be surprised by it. They are a good team and are full of confidence. Next week will be the same, coming to Cork . They will have no fears. They will attack the game. We will try and do likewise,” he said.
Cahalane is one of the increasingly rare athletic curiosities which Cork have gifted the GAA down the years: a hurling and football player of inter-county pedigree. As the son of Niall Cahalane, one of the enduring names of Cork football, he stood out as a footballer but has bounced between both camps since excelling as a minor prospect.
In Salthill on Sunday, he gave a commanding performance in a Cork half-back line that was under constant pressure from the bustling, athletic Galway unit and although Cork never seriously threatened to win the game in the second half, he left the field relatively happy with what he had experienced.
“There was heart and there was grit in the performance. Those were the positives. You can’t expect to go out and win every game in Division One A. All the players can look after is working hard and going for every ball. I wouldn’t be too worried about the result.”
For the supporters of both counties, Sunday’s fixture was about new beginnings, Galway’s managerial change was highly publicised, with the squad pushing for the removal of Anthony Cunningham’s regime in the wake of their All-Ireland final defeat.
In Cork, Jimmy Barry Murphy stepped down in quieter circumstances, with Kieran Kingston appointed as his successor.
But much of the emphasis in Salthill was on how Galway would look in their first outing under Micheál Donoghue. It turned out they looked hungry.
“They have a new management and a lot of players, I suppose, have a lot to do to stake their claim on the team,” said Cahalane. “You could see that outside there. Fellas were kinda hopping off the ground for ’em . . .”
For Cahalane, this season and Sunday’s game marks the beginning of a new process and he has been enjoying working under Kingston’s new backroom squad.
“Brilliant. Especially for the likes of myself and the others in the back line: I grew up idolising Diarmuid O’Sullivan and the great player that he was and it’s unbelievable to have the likes of him and the likes of Pat Hartnett, Pat Ryan, Kieran; all of them there. Fellas that had plenty of guts and determination when they were playing.”
It is is a long way to the Munster championship and Cahalane wasn’t overly concerned about how the scoreboard read in Pearse Stadium.
“Ah...nah. This early in the year we wouldn’t be too worried about it. If you lost the first game, you do want to win the next one and I suppose we are just looking forward to it and hope to put on a good performance for the Cork supporters at home.”