Dónal Óg Cusack believes a Cork win in this weekend's All-Ireland Under-20 final would be a huge boost for hurling in the Rebel County.
The Rebels take on Tipperary in Saturday’s decider at Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds hoping to end a long drought at this level.
This is the first Under-20 championship, the age-grade having been reduced from Under-21 after last year’s final. Cork haven’t won either since they went back-to-back with Cusack in goals in 1997 and ’98.
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They beat Tipp in last year’s Munster final but since then they lost last year’s All-Ireland final and this year’s provincial decider to the Premier County via stoppage-time goals.
"I’m hoping it’s third time lucky!" laughed Cusack, referring to those defeats while speaking on the latest episode of the RTÉ GAA Podcast.
"There obviously isn’t the party atmosphere in Cork that there would be in Tipperary at the moment. But there will be no less hunger and desire for an All-Ireland title – it’s a long time since Cork have won an Under-21.
"The All-Ireland final last year was fine margins, we all know what happened in the Munster final a couple of weeks ago. I expect a huge, huge crowd to attend from Cork."
Tipp won the Liam MacCarthy Cup last Sunday so the county will still be on a high. Under-20s Jake Morris and Jerome Cahill were part of the senior squad, with Morris, the man who scored the winning goal in the Munster final, coming off the bench and clipping a neat point.
Cusack said: "A win would be great for Cork, there's no denying that. It has been too long since we won one.
"We have won a number of the younger age-groups over the last few years, but in reality those are tournaments. I wouldn’t say you can compare any of them to a minor or an Under-20 victory. It would be a very welcome boost on Saturday if Cork could win."
Cork seniors are currently on the look-out for a new manager and a win on Sunday would boost Denis Ring’s profile if he was interested in making the step-up, though it appears Kieran Kingston is favourite to take over.
Kingston stepped down two years ago and was replaced by John Meyler, who walked away after this year’s disappointing All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Kilkenny.
Tipp are defending champions and their previous All-Ireland came in 2010 when they did the senior and Under-21 double.
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