While the natural metamorphosis of the team saw the names of those around them change, not even the passing of time could weaken that impenetrable fortification.
In the 35 championship matches played between the ’04 defeat to Waterford and the 2010 All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Kilkenny, John Gardiner, Ronan Curran and Seán Óg Ó hAilpín played 34, 32, and 31 times respectively. In total, they made a staggering 28 appearances under the banner of Cork’s half-back line.
All in all, in seven championship seasons, no other player lined out in Cork’s half-back line on more than one occasion. Eventually, by the time the band broke up, none of the frustrated underlings were around to take their place.
If there is any solace to be gleaned from Cork’s plight, it is in the knowledge that our old foes Kilkenny have too been burdened with the task of reconstructing an illustrious half-back line. Since the retirement of Tommy Walsh in 2013 and JJ Delaney’s relocation to the full-back line towards the latter end of his career, a rotating cast of young pretenders have auditioned at numbers five, six and seven, with varying levels of success.