portal_normal EE STRUCTURE orgcat: /PUBLICATIONS/EE-ECHO/SPORT/2020/07/24/lead-pic-12

portal_normal PUBLICATION STRUCTURE cat: /publications/ee-echo/sport/2020/07/24/lead-pic-12

portal_normal CATEGORY STRUCTURE category: /PUBLICATIONS/EE-ECHO/SPORT/2020/07/24/lead-pic-12

portal_normal STRUCTURE section: corksport

portal_normal getURLCurrent: /web/eveningecho/corksport/detailedstory?p_p_id=DetailedStory_WAR_portalsuite&p_p_lifecycle=0&_DetailedStory_WAR_portalsuite_arg_detailstory_uuid=c9dfc351-7f80-4a31-b3ba-a1a8a643010c

portal_normal getPortalURL getURLCurrent: http://www.echolive.ie./web/eveningecho/corksport/detailedstory?p_p_id=DetailedStory_WAR_portalsuite&p_p_lifecycle=0&_DetailedStory_WAR_portalsuite_arg_detailstory_uuid=c9dfc351-7f80-4a31-b3ba-a1a8a643010c

portal_normal getPortalURL: http://www.echolive.ie

portal_normal domain: http://www.echolive.ie

STRUCTURE EE_062016_general_layout.tpl - url: /corksport/Brian-Hurley-versus-John-Hayes-on-TG4-spotlight-is-on-two-great-Cork-forwards-c9dfc351-7f80-4a31-b3ba-a1a8a643010c-ds

STRUCTURE EE_062016_general_layout.tpl - section: corksport

STRUCTURE EE_062016_general_layout.tpl - orgcat: orgcat = /PUBLICATIONS/EE-ECHO/SPORT/2020/07/24/lead-pic-12

Carbery Rangers’s John Hayes is chased by Castlehaven’s David Limrick. The two sides meet again in this year’s new format PSFC tomorrow. Picture: Larry Cummins
Carbery Rangers’s John Hayes is chased by Castlehaven’s David Limrick. The two sides meet again in this year’s new format PSFC tomorrow. Picture: Larry Cummins
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Brian Hurley versus John Hayes on TG4: spotlight is on two great Cork forwards

IT’S remarkable that they’re still going, these two generational talents.

When TG4 announced they were covering the most anticipated/unusual of championship opening football weekends in Cork, they could hardly have picked a better place to start.

Down in Clon, West Cork, perfect. Two of the heavyweights of West Cork football who’ve managed to put together a bit of a series in recent times — they’ve both won counties and been in the mix for several others in recent times and since Haven’s hammering of Ross in the 2011 semi-final (2-12 to 0-5), Ross have held the upper hand (2-17 to 1-18 in last year’s classic clash the latest).

And two of THE forward players in Cork club football over the last decade hold the promise of scores.

John Hayes, who started scoring in junior with Ross in 2002 and has never stopped (27-444 in over 90 championship games, hat tip to the Southern Star for the stats), right through senior level where he’s consistently been in the top five scorers in championship.

Brian Hurley, who made his debut as a 16-year-old against Ilen in 2009, smashed onto the scene through six or so brilliant seasons and then had that awful time where it looked like Haven and Cork had lost a player of that talent.

For John Hayes, like Ryan Giggs, there’s been the longevity of influence, quantity and quality. He was the only current player picked on a greatest West Cork team of the last 50 years recently.

It took a little time for Ross to find their feet at senior level but by 2007, their second year up, Hayes already was scoring 1-23 – for context that year’s scoring chart had James Masters and Kevin O’Sullivan with him in the top three — and those types of tallies kept coming season after season. He top-scored in 2014 with 5-28 when driving Ross to a county final and again hit 2-27 in 2016 when they finally made the breakthrough.

Listing the stats as evidence of the numbers is hard to avoid and still it sort of loses all those individual games where he blitzed teams and all the man-marking corner-backs he’s seen off – a 2-3 against Ballincollig in 2011 stands out, a 2-4 against Haven in 2014 and then 1-7 v Clon the next day out.

On the county title season, he had 1-4 against Clyda in the opener (including an extra-time penalty, a skill he’s always had the technique and head for, remember the composure for the last-minute one against Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final 2008), and then 1-8 in the semi-final and 0-5 in the final, almost understated but just as vital.

Just when there was a minor thought that powers were waning a little, along he came with 2-20 to be top scorer in last year’s championship, including 1-9 against Haven again and 1-8 v the Barrs. If there’s been a signature move for Ross over the last 10 years it’s been a kickpass into a clever run into space and Hayes jinking to create the room for a strike and popping a point over from any angle. He scored a point in Dunmanway a couple of years ago that could have been any time in the last fifteen seasons, way out on the right wing, just dropping over the bar.

He scored a point off his left the same day that showed his two footedness and if a profile was put together of a technical scoring forward then Hayes would have every skill in his locker.

Brian Hurley’s influence might have been shorter but more explosive in ways.

Haven had been sort of drifting until Hurley’s emergence in 2010-2015; they won two and lost two county finals in that spell. Hurley was devastating.

 Castlehaven’s Brian Hurley in full flight against Duhallow. Picture: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

Castlehaven’s Brian Hurley in full flight against Duhallow. Picture: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

In 2012 he got 2-13 (a 1-6 v Ross) but that was just a warm-up. In 2014 he whacked the county for 3-47 (scores including a 2-5 v Nemo, a 0-9, 1-6 and then 0-12 in the final) and he was more or less unplayable — Haven opened space in front and to the sides, Mark Collins hopped kickpasses in and once he got the ball in hand he was getting a shot away.

I remember talking to John Cleary at the time and letting the chance open to downplay the pressure but he wasn’t having it — Cleary said the boy could achieve anything at any stage and it was just so exciting to watch at the time nobody thought it could end.

Even in 2014 and 2015 when he was being double-marked most of the time he got 3-14 and 3-24. The injuries ruined the end of 2016, 2017, a lot of 2018 where he was operating at less than full pace. And then when we’d sort of accepted that we wouldn’t see him like that again, we started hearing whispers of form with Cork pre-championship and we got Brian Hurley 2.0.

Haven got taken out by Ross too early for him to light up locally (he still got 0-4 from play) but they’ll be hoping that this kind of format could allow him build momentum and form with a run of games.

The thing about Hurley is that he’s still only 28 and if there’s always the doubt of vulnerability, then there’s also the fact that he has less mileage in the legs from a few years away. Imagine the wreck a fresh, full-paced Hurley might do to a club defence here with Mark Collins enabling and his brother Michael making sure teams can’t commit fully to anybody.

This summer is out there in all sorts of ways. No supporters at games might alter the dynamic and it’ll be interesting to see how it impacts teams who may have flourished especially in the manic environment of championship atmospheres.

The strange lead-in and game bubble might just lead to a more open type of game (Michael Quinlivan hinted at this from Tipp last weekend), where teams with scoring forwards will be more important than before even and might make the difference again.

Our new way of watching games gives us the chance to see players slightly detached from the occasion, for Cork football fans to see two players we’re lucky to be seeing again in so many ways and for both clubs to realise how hard it will be the replace them.

Let’s hope they put on a show.

GAA Beo ar TG4: Castlehaven v Carbery Rangers at Sunday, 2.15pm.

Our new way of watching games gives us the chance to see players slightly detached from the occasion, for Cork football fans to see two players we’re lucky to be seeing again in so many ways and for both clubs to realise how hard it will be the replace them.