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GAA: REBELS GO BACK TO FUTURE; Corcoran eyes a return.

Byline: Jackie CAHILL

CORK legend Brian Corcoran marked his return to hurling with a 0-9 haul on Monday night.

A healthy crowd turned up at Pairc Ui Rinn to witness the return of a hero.

Corcoran, playing his first competitive game for over three years, showed flashes of his old form.

In a senior hurling league opener against Killeagh, Corcoran put in an excellent performance.

Last month, Corcoran scored 1-7 in a training match and has carried that form to a higher level.

And on Monday evening, he threw over 0-4 from play and 0-5 from dead balls.

Corcoran, a former Hurler of the Year and All-Ireland winner in 1999, was only 27 when he announced his shock retirement in July 2001.

But he has decided to give the game another crack and harbours hopes of returning to the Cork senior set-up under current boss Donal O'Grady.

Operating from centre forward, where he won a county championship medal with Erin's Own in 1992, Corcoran showed that he hasn't lost his touch nor eye for goal.

Cork's 1999 All-Ireland winning captain Mark Landers was Corcoran's unfortunate direct opponent on his long-awaited return and Landers admitted that he was given the proverbial run-around.

The former county midfield ace said: "Brian played well, looked fit and was really up for the game. But when you've been away for three years from something you've been doing since seven or eight years of age, you're bound to be enthusiastic.

"He played accordingly and tried fierce hard but he's always had a touch of class.

"He took two or three points off me before he went in full forward for the last 15 minutes for a breather," said Landers. "But he's in great shape."Erin's Own ran out comfortable 2-20 to 1-7 victors against Killeagh who had 1-3 from Joe Deane, who's missed almost two months with an ankle injury.

Deane will soon rejoin the Cork senior panel for the latter stages of the league and Landers believes Corcoran could still operate at the highest level.

Corcoran won't shift Niall McCarthy from the Cork centre forward position if he manages to force his way into Donal O'Grady's panel.

But with Setanta O'hAilpin's defection to Australian Rules, there's a vacancy in the full forward line.

And the talk on Leeside is that Corcoran could possibly do a sound job at full forward, freeing up Deane for a corner forward slot.

"I've no doubt he could still play for Cork if he wants to be involved," said Landers.

"He has the necessary qualities the selectors would be looking for but it's up to himself.

"But whether Brian wants the pressure is a question only he can answer."

Landers himself has ruled out any return to the Cork set-up and doubts whether he has anything to contribute.

"I was on the panel this time last year but I hurt my groin, missed the bones of 12 weeks and that was it.

"I'm involved with the club as player manager, I've had a good innings and although I wouldn't say I've pulled out, I'm not involved at the moment."

Meanwhile last year's captain Alan Browne is still considering his inter-county future.

The 30-year-old admitted that he hasn't spoken to Cork boss O'Grady in some time.

He claims he is too occupied with work and family commitments at the moment to even think about hurling.

"At the moment I have no clear decision made in my head.

"Family is the number one priority," he said.

CAPTION(S):

HARD TASK: Mark Landers; RETURN OF THE KING: Brian Corcoran
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 25, 2004
Words:596
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