Cork crackers: Our top 10 Rebel hurling goals of the past 40 years

Cork crackers: Our top 10 Rebel hurling goals of the past 40 years
Conor Lehane racing away from Clare's Patrick O'Connor to score his goal during the All-Ireland final at Croke Park. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

CORK hurling fans can consider themselves incredibly lucky as down the years the Rebels have scored some of the greatest goals in hurling history. Here are some of the best that the internet and well stocked DVD collections can find:

10. Timmy McCarthy v Tipperary, All-Ireland qualifier, Fitzgerald’s Stadium, 2004:

Cork were coming off losing a Munster Final classic to Waterford and were extremely vulnerable to Tipp down in Killarney. At least that was until Castlelyons’ Timmy McCarthy latched onto a delivery from namesake Niall and unleashed a blistering shot past Brendan Cummins from 21 yards out to set Cork on their way towards that year’s All-Ireland.

Picture: Eddie O'Hare. 
Picture: Eddie O'Hare. 

9. Conor Lehane v Clare, Munster round robin, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 2018:

A wonderful goal that came from two magical flicks from Patrick Horgan and Conor Lehane. Horgan somehow kept a wayward Shane Kingston delivery in with a back handed overhead flick which sent it back across the square for Lehane to send it to the back of the Clare net Roger Federer style.

8. Mark Foley v Tipperary, Munster final, Semple Stadium, 1990:

The giant centre forward rose highest to bat Kieran McGuckin’s wonderfully clipped sideline to the back of Ken Hogan’s net, and would end with 2-7 from play, as Cork downed the reigning All-Ireland Champions in a surprise victory on home turf.

7. Ben O’Connor v Tipperary, Munster final, Semple Stadium, 2006:

The Newtown man drilled past Tipp keeper Brendan Cummins from a tight angle after a wonderful length of the pitch passing movement, as Cork won their third Munster title in a row.

6. Conor Lehane v Clare, All-Ireland final, Croke Park, 2013:

Lehane’s wonderful arcing run from 50 yards and bullet of a shot from an angle was a wonderful microcosm of the Midleton man’s mesmeric talent. If Cork had held out and won that drawn game then it would have gone down in the annals as one of the great September strikes.

5. Patrick Horgan v Kilkenny, All-Ireland quarter-final, Croke Park, 2019:

Horgan’s performance last July is destined to be remembered as one of the great performances on a losing cause, and his third goal that day was breath-taking.

Not renowned for his catching ability, the Glen man jumped with Paddy Deegan and somehow emerged with the ball in his paw. He then burst past three Kilkenny defenders before blasting past Eoin Murphy. Let’s just ignore the step count.

4. Joe Deane v Clare, Munster semi-final, Semple Stadium, 2003:

This one is ridiculously hard to find on the internet. You might have to resort to digging out an old DVD, but it is well worth it. This goal in Donal O’Grady’s first game in charge of Cork in 2003 essentially sparked this Cork team into life, with them reaching four All-Ireland finals in a row from 2003 to 2006, winning the middle two.

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

It arrived in the 13th minute of this resounding eleven point triumph, when Ben O'Connor ran menacingly at the heart of the Clare defence before flipping the ball up for Deane to hit a thunderous volley which sent the sliotar pinging back into play off the stanchion. The volley was so well struck that the officials had to consult before awarding what was a wonderful goal by the Killeagh wizard.

3. Tomás Mulcahy v Galway, All-Ireland final, Croke Park 1986:

This is just past the one hour and nine minute mark of the 1986 final footage on YouTube, and it remains one of the great All-Ireland final goals.

Mulcahy fields a long clearance from Tom Cashman over the head of imposing Galway wing-back Peter Finnerty on the 65, which was no mean feat in its own right, and then the Glen man set off on a searing run towards John Commins. The great Tony Keady and Conor Hayes couldn’t get near him and he flashed a wicked shot from the left edge of the square into the back of the Galway net to give Cork a crucial three-point lead a vital juncture of the game.

2. John Fenton v Limerick, Munster semi-final, Semple Stadium, 1987:

That goal! It came in a Munster Semi-final replay against Limerick and it one of the most wonderful pieces of hurling artistry of all time, and what makes it the more special is the fact that it would not be scored in the modern game, as today any hurler in Fenton’s position would be expected to pick it up and slot it over the bar.

Fenton’s first touch as he runs onto the ball opens up the opportunity, allowing time to survey Tommy Quaid’s net in the distance. He then contorts his body wonderfully to ensure every ounce of strength in his body gets released into the shot. The Midleton maestro ends up with both feet off the ground, such is the power of his ground stroke.

Some might argue that Tommy Quaid should never have beaten from 45 yards out, but in fairness, it was a rocket, right into the top corner.

1. Jimmy Barry-Murphy v Galway, All-Ireland semi-final, Croke Park, 1983:

It is to the late Michael O’Hehir’s great credit that he saw this goal immediately, because most people watching didn’t. Even when viewed in slow motion some folk are still uncertain as to whether Jimmy Barry-Murphy made contact.

He did.

Dermot McCurtain feeds John Fenton in the centre of the pitch, and Fenton quickly snaps a driven low ball directly towards the Galway goal. As the ball whizzes past Jimmy Barry-Murphy and his marker Conor Hayes you merely see a blur of movement, but the ball takes on speed and takes a slight change in direction. 

The slow motion picture proves your eyes were not deceiving you, as JBM somehow pulled on the ball in mid-air, in otherworldly fashion, to send it to the back of the net.

O’Hehir immediately proclaimed it “one of the greatest goals of all time”. He wasn’t wrong.

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