Lehane: It's time to step up

by Michelle Fortune , 01 May 2012

Conor Lehane accepts the time has come for other Cork players to step up in the wake of Donal Og Cusack's season-ending injury.

Cusack is unlikely to play again this season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 semi-final win over Tipperary and his loss will be a huge blow to Cork both on and off the field.

The Rebels begin life without their influential goalkeeper on Sunday when they face Kilkenny in the League final at Semple Stadium and while Lehane believes he will still have a big role to play, he has urged his team-mates to step up.

"We are very disappointed for him and he’d be disappointed himself. But he’d be the first fella to remind you that it’s not about an individual, it is all about the team and how the team performs. The message at half-time when he got injured against Tipperary was to drive on," Lehane explained.

"It’s obviously disappointing but you have to stay concentrating on the game and stay concentrating on performing.

"I’d say he definitely will have a role still with the team. He is such a big personality and such a big part of Cork hurling over the last number of years. He’ll be there with us but it’s time for other people to realise it’s time to step up. The other keepers (Anthony Nash and Martin Coleman) are top class and I’d have no doubts in them. They have their opportunity now and they’ll take it. I couldn’t speak highly enough of them."

Lehane was only a bit-part member of the panel last year due to his Leaving Cert studies but Jimmy Barry-Murphy wasted little time in calling him into his squad for 2012 and he has played his part in helping Cork reach the League final.

He was on the field when Cork defeated Kilkenny earlier in the tournament and he is relishing the opportunity to inflict another defeat on the All-Ireland champions.

"We're going out for the win and so are Kilkenny, It's all about how we perform on the day, we're just focusing on ourselves," he is quoted as saying in The Sun.

"It's very intense at this level. The main difference I've found is the physicality of the game. You can't lose focus for a second.

"You have to be prepared to take a few hits - it's a tough game. You can't just go in and play away. You have to be aware this kind of stuff will happen. It's how you react to that which is important."

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