Hurling and camogie

Piano man Conor McSorley keeping faith with Derry hurlers

Derry's Conor McSorley decided against retiring

PIANO man Conor McSorley had plans. Big plans. And they didn’t involve playing for the Derry hurlers in 2016. He had every intention of writing more music and putting more hours into the family business.

After all, two-thirds of last year's Christy Ring final team had left the stage. At 27, McSorley was seriously considering walking off into the sunset with them. But he decided against it and returned for another season.

“At the start of the season, I thought about retiring myself,” he says.

“I’ve two young kids and I work away in Scotland and England. It’s a family business and my brother is kind of driving the thing and I need to be doing the same. But it’s very, very hard to do everything.

“I enjoy writing music more than playing it. I’m not going anywhere with it, I just do it for fun. It clears my head and it’s therapeutic. It’s something I enjoy. But I can’t get at that at all. That just had to take a back seat.

“But in the end, I decided not to retire. We were a really close group. That was before [former Derry trainer] Dinny Cahill wasn’t coming back. Dinny was a miracle man. He’s brilliant. But I just decided to stick at it and I like the look of the squad, even if results haven’t been good this season.”

Derry endured a wretched Division 2A League campaign, which resulted in relegation and they lost their opening Christy Ring tie to Roscommon last weekend. They host Down at Owenbeg on Saturday (2pm) in a bid to turn their Ring campaign around and avoid dropping into the Nicky Rackard.

“I did an interview at the start of the year and I said that our aim was to avoid relegation. We’ve lost so many players from last year," McSorley added.

“We didn’t manage to avoid relegation and the last thing we want now is to be be relegated into the Nicky Rackard and that’s what we’re focusing on. But it’s not beyond us to reach a semi-final or final of the Christy Ring. Last week, we didn’t turn up against Roscommon; they deserved to win.”

Manager Tom McLean remains the man tasked with an almost impossible job: trying to blood a dozen or so players into the senior set-up all at the one time: “Tom’s job is extremely difficult,” said McSorley.

“He’s a real good fella and is doing his best for what he has. Now, there are players in our team who I wouldn’t swap for anybody. But with the injuries we’ve had and the amount of retirements we’ve had to cope with, it’s not easy. If you’ve one or two players retiring, you can maybe cope with that. But trying to blood 11 or 12 players all at once is very, very difficult.

“Now, I’ve no doubt if those guys stick together over the next couple of years they’ll come again. But you don’t want the same thing happening in a few years time to all them retire at the same time.”

Despite a disappointing season to date, McSorley doesn’t regret his decision to remain with the Oak Leafers: “I’ve met a lot of friends and acquaintances through playing for Derry. I would encourage younger players to have a go at it. I don’t regret playing county hurling because it’s been really good to me.

“We had a good batch of players and we did well and then a lot of them retired at the same time. It’s been difficult this year, but I certainly don’t regret staying on.”

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Hurling and camogie