PAUDIE O’SULLIVAN IS hopeful that the Cork hurlers can “rise to the challenge” when they meet Waterford on Sunday.
The old rivals clash in an All-Ireland quarter-final in Thurles after the Rebels overcame Wexford two weeks ago.
A win over the beaten Munster finalists, something they have failed to achieve in the last five championship encounters between the teams, would represent real progress for Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s youthful side.
23-year-old Cloyne club man O’Sullivan has no doubts that Michael Ryan’s team will prove to be stern opponents and says looking beyond this weekend would be foolish on their part.
“Croke Park is the place every hurler wants to be come August and September, and it would be great if we could get there this year, but we aren’t even thinking about that at the moment because our sole focus is on next Sunday’s quarter final clash with Waterford at Thurles,” he said.
That’s going to be a massive test, but we are hopeful we can rise to the challenge and push on. Maybe the two games we had against Wexford and Offaly in the qualifiers will stand to us.
Despite rediscovering their goalscoring form against Wexford, many believed that they made hard work of the game but corner forward O’Sullivan is quick to disagree.
“People have been critical of our displays against Offaly and Wexford, but they were hard games to prepare for because we had been built up as massive favourites, and we were in a no-win situation really.
At the end of the day, it’s all about getting a result in the qualifiers, and we’re just happy to be in the quarter-finals at this stage.
“Our preparations have gone very well. There has been no slackening off under (trainer) Dave Matthews, whose training has been top notch, and we firmly believe we are in excellent shape at this stage.”