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Ben on Cork cynicism: “Offaly would probably do the same thing”

Cork manager Ben O’Connor speaks about his namesake leaving hurling for rugby, and his side’s cynicism when beating Offaly

Cork manager Ben O’Connor speaks about his namesake leaving hurling for rugby, and his side’s cynicism when beating Offaly after a great display.

All-Ireland Under-20 manager Ben O’Connor hasn’t ruled out his namesake returning to Cork hurling.

The St Finbarr’s starlet lined out at centre-back in the 2-22 to 3-13 win over Offaly at Semple Stadium, and afterwards confirmed he was done with the small ball.

“No, I’m after deciding I’m going with the rugby so this was my last hurling game,” says the 2021 All-Ireland winning minor captain.

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“I was delighted to finish on a high now with the lads, you couldn’t pick a better group of lads.

“It was a very tough decision but I was happy with my decision in the end,” he adds.

“It meant everything at the final whistle, it meant the whole world that I won it.

“I’m absolutely buzzing, on top of the world.”

Manager O’Connor was equally thrilled with the performance and victory — Cork’s third at this level in the past four seasons — as his team produced yet another strong 60-minute showing.

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“You’d never know,” says the manager of his centre-back finishing up hurling.

“After seeing that today and enjoying that so much, he can always come back to the hurling after.

“I don’t think he’ll get too many thrills as good as that playing rugby or soccer or anything else.

“Delighted,” explains the 2004 All-Ireland winning Cork captain. “We’ve a great bunch of fellas involved in the backroom team.

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“You couldn’t ask for better craic. We wanted to make it fun for the lads as well that they enjoy coming to training and they have.

“They’re after getting their rewards again today.

“You see there. It’s a long time since there was an Under-20 celebrated like that and the crowd on the field and everything.

“It’s a great day out for families, a lot of children here.

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“We were outnumbered crowd-wise but the crowd we did have here, they roared and shouted for us and it’s great to see them after.

“Hopefully there’ll be young fellas walking out of here that say I want to play for Cork.”

Offaly manager Leo O’Connor was unhappy with some of the tackling by the Rebels, including a hit on Cormac Egan and a rugby tackle by Eoin Downey on Dan Bourke.

In response, O’Connor says: “If they got the chance, they’d probably do the same thing. It happens in games.

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“You do what you have to do to win and if you’re going to be looking at things like that after, you can go through them with a fine-tooth comb and there’s lots of mistakes on both sides.

“Look, we won by eight or nine points, job done for Cork.”

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