We are all very much aware of the long gaps since the Cork hurlers have won silverware at national level, across almost all levels and age groups, but the sight of a proud 20-year-old Diarmuid O’Sullivan leading the Cork team around Semple Stadium in advance of their seven-point victory over Waterford in the ’98 league decider shorn of colour seems a step too far.
The thinking seems to be that the lengthening of the evenings will transform Cork completely from their winter slumber and see them overtake the field to sweep all before them in swashbuckling fashion.
Nine starters in the All-Ireland final of ’99 started the ’98 league final, while four of these – Brian Corcoran, Sean Óg Ó hAilpín, Joe Deane and Diarmuid O’Sullivan - still remained in 2005.
A quick look at the fortunes of Cork’s competitors in this period tells a similar story. Kilkenny have won 13 league titles since 1998, Galway have four, Tipperary have three, Clare and Limerick have one each.
There is no denying league and championship are different animals, but the ’98 league experience would have stood to Cork in 1999 and beyond.
It was telling that this one ‘performance’ against Tipp came in the one game that Alan Cadogan featured.