ONE of many great thrills in watching that Cork team, which won All-Irelands in 1989 and ’90, was wing-back Mick Slocum surging forward.
The dynamic St Finbarr’s player had showcased his talents during the golden age of under-age football in the county, when winning three All-Ireland U21 medals, captaining the team on one occasion, as well.
Records show Slocum scored in all of Cork’s games en route to the 1990 final, Limerick, Kerry and Roscommon.
“I would have been known as an attacking wing-back, but on that day it was all about defence, particularly, when we were down to 14 for the second half. I didn’t get forward a whole pile.
“My style wasn’t new because you could go back to Jimmy Kerrigan, who was doing it in the early 80s.
“Obviously, I enjoyed the attacking element of it, but Billy (Morgan) would always have a leash on me whereas I probably had more licence with the Barrs.
“He would stress the importance of minding the player I was on and that was the main thing,” Slocum said.
Luck and fate, according to the star wing-back, played important roles in helping Cork dominate Munster and reach four All-Ireland finals on the spin.
“No matter how good a player you are you have to be born at the right time.
“I look back at players like Declan Browne in Tipperary and Mattie Forde in Wexford, absolutely fantastic players, who never won All-Irelands.
“We weren’t as talented, but we came around at the right time with a great bunch.”
Slocum was 25, when lining out to play Meath in the ’90 decider and couldn’t wait for the moment Paddy Russell got proceedings under way.
“When the whistle goes in an All-Ireland semi-final, the build-up begins and I found it a long time to be waiting for the final.
“You’re just spending the three or four weeks waiting and waiting and even though you’d be going to training, it was always a long build-up for me.
“All I wanted was for the referee to throw-in the ball and let the game begin.”
Cork had completed the first leg of the double and now a city and county held its breath for the footballers.
“The build up was huge on account of the hurlers, first of all being in the final, and then, when they won the whole thing just exploded altogether.
“I can’t recall there being added pressure because of talk about a possible double.
“Apart from Teddy McCarthy and Denis Walsh I don’t think the double really mattered to either the hurlers or the footballers in the sense that neither would have been devalued had the other not won.
“And it’s only in the last couple of years, especially around the time of the 25th anniversary, when we were up at Croke Park, that the double was actually appreciated.
“Supporters were talking about what both the hurlers and footballers had done and I suppose that brought it home once again the enormity of the achievement.”
Slocum was on the bench in the two previous finals against Meath, but made the number five jersey his own from ’89, when Cork defeated Mayo in the final.
“I thought we beat a very good team that year even though some people outside the county kind of rubbished the final.
“Winning that one was obviously huge and I reckon it took a lot of the pressure off because if we were to lose three-in-a-row I wondered if the team would ever come back.
The Cork-Meath rivalry became legendary and wasn’t confined to All-Ireland finals either.
“We had played them in the league semi-final earlier in the year at Croke Park and all hell broke loose that day.
“And if I’m not mistaken we also played them up there during the regular league season and that was very physical, as well.
“The All-Ireland final itself was tough, as you’d expect it to be, but I don’t think there was anything over the top either. I marked Colm Brady initially and I was on Colm Coyle for a while too. I think there were a couple of others who came my way, as well.”
Slocum formed part of a defence, which included Conor Counihan at centre-back and Barry Coffey on the left with Tony Nation, Steven O’Brien and Niall Cahalane in the full-back line.
“There was good communication at the back, starting with John Kerins in goal. He was always talking and on to us.
“Obviously, it was difficult at times in a packed Croker Park, but once you got in a bit closer you could arrange things. And that was crucial really because Meath had a very good forward line back then so we had to wide awake all the time.”
The importance of Cork’s 0-11 to 0-9 triumph was obvious to all, but particularly to the players.
“When we eventually all retired we were able to do it with a peace of mind.
“I honestly believe if we hadn’t beaten Meath we’d regret it for the rest of our lives.
“It was so important to beat them, because of the rivalry and because they had beaten us in 87 and 88,” Slocum concluded.