Ken McGrath and John Mullane were at the heart of the Déise challenge then. Hurlers you loved to hate at the time if you were in Rebel red but now grant deserved respect as modern greats.
"Ben O’Connor, Jerry O’Connor, Joe Deane, I marked Niall McCarthy a good few times, a man as tough as nails, Tom Kenny in midfield.
“The Munster final ‘04 is one everyone remembers. It wasn’t the hardest catch because The Rock was probably positioned wrong. He went [to pull in the air] with one hand and he’d never go with one hand. It was a huge moment in seeing out that game but I didn’t think too much about it because you should be catching it.”
“In ‘08 we got to the All-Ireland in the wrong year when a lot of lads were coming to the end of their days.”
Gerald McCarthy and Justin McCarthy both helped their native county to glory but ended up in front of the opposition dugout in a period when the rivalry Cork and the Déise was at its sharpest. Gerald from 1997, Justin coming in at the end of ‘01.
“Justin came in with different ideas. All hurling. He only got us ready for the summer, he didn’t care about the league.
“It was a horrible way for a manager who gave so much to finish up that way. I haven’t seen Justin since and it’s a bit sad really but as players, we don’t know how you approach it now.”
“He eats, sleeps and breathes hurling. He’d bring you down to Passage West, to the ball alley, working on your first touch. He’d get your hurleys, bring it off with him and bring it back a week later... sometimes lads would be trying to hide the hurleys from him because Justin would be saying he’d take a bit off here and a bit off there.
"If we were a small bit more mindful at the back of not conceding as much we might have gotten over the line.”