Three Munster titles were the highlights of a decade when Cork failed to lift Liam MacCarthy even once writes Eoin Keane...
When Kilkenny overpowered an insipid Cork team last July, it marked the cessation of a decade in which a collection of hurlers from Leeside have been unable to transpose their provincial prowess onto Jones’ Road, where the air is closer and the stakes are higher.
Of course, we could always look at Cork’s recent past as the proverbial glass half-full of Munster Championships. When you consider the wealth of competition in the province over the past 10 years and that all five participants have contested recent All-Ireland finals, three Munsters is a decent haul in any man’s language.
Naturally, any semblance of satisfaction gleaned from our Munster dominance is completely sullied by 2013 and the one that got away.
Saying goodbye to the old concrete coliseum added an extra layer of emotion and joyousness when defeating Limerick in ’14, not to mention the atonement for the year previous. The win over Clare three years later brought with it a different kind of emotion, an excited feeling that a sleeping giant was finally awaking from its slumber. By the time the dust settled on 2018 however, Munster medals had already begun to feel a little lighter.
In that period, all our Munster brethren have outperformed us, while only Dublin, Wexford, Laois and Antrim hold inferior win percentages from the quarter-finals onwards. Six All-Ireland semi-finals against six different opponents have come and gone in the intervening years, the victory over Dublin in 2013 standing out among a litany of agonising defeats.
A few false dawns later, a couple of rock-bottoms down the line and here we are again, looking upwards, our two greatest rivals perched at seemingly unattainable heights, expectation levels low but infused with hope.