IN my time involved with various teams I always had the belief that every player, irrespective of past reputations and things like that, needs a kick up the backside.
Over the past few weekends Patrick Horgan was on the receiving end of a kick like that from the Cork management and it is my firm belief that it is going to be the making of him.
Horgan is one of the most skilful players around, one of the country’s top forwards but sometimes his workrate is not maybe what it should be.
Kieran Kingston made a big call in dropping him, other managers might not have taken such a bold decision and the Cork boss must be admired for that.
Obviously, Horgan would not have been pleased, no player ever is but when he was called into the starting 15 before the start of last Sunday’s game in Pairc Ui Rinn he was given the opportunity to show what he’s capable of and he grasped it with both hands.
In my opinion he won the game for Cork, a return of 15 points is a significant haul and he missed hardly anything over the 70 minutes.
It was very much a case of a player making a statement, I am back in now and I’ll make it very hard for ye to leave men out again.
As I said earlier, this might well be a big turning point in this player’s career because when Cork lost Conor Lehane early on the Glen Rovers man took over that mantle and every credit to him.
Horgan is too good a player to be sitting on a bench but maybe that kick which I mentioned earlier was just what was required.
During the course of the league to date we have seen various members of Cork’s younger brigade make a considerable impression.
Last Sunday we saw another one come to the forefront with Darragh Fitzgibbon making a huge impact coming in as a sub for Lehane.
Now you must remember that he is coming from an intermediate club in Charleville and to come into a game like last Sunday was a big ask for a youngfellow.
I saw this fellow once or twice during the Munster League and I was impressed with him. He’s very fast, knows how to put the ball between the posts and he did the job on Sunday when other forwards were off target with their final deliveries.
He’s another one who has entered the equation for a starting spot next Sunday.
Make no mistake about it, this was a good win for Cork. I thought beforehand that they would win because Tipp really had nothing to play for.
That’s not detracting from Cork but I believe the most important win that this Cork bunch of players have secured this season so far was the one against Waterford in Walsh Park.
I believe that is the game that may well define Cork’s season. Of course the win over Tipperary was important but in my view not as important as the victory that day in Walsh Park.
Cork faced a big challenge that day at a venue that, historically, has not been great for them.
They went there on the back of two poor losses to Dublin and Kilkenny, were under pressure and they played solidly and consistently over the 70 minutes to get the win.
Now they have beaten Tipperary, admittedly an understrength Tipp team but they still had to show deep resolve to get the win.
And I believe a lot of that resolve came from the win down in Waterford.
Now Cork have a home tie with Limerick and you’d be expecting a Cork win in that. Now in saying that, Limerick had a good game with Galway last weekend and that will stand to them.
They don’t have a championship game until June so they’ll want to extend the league if at all possible.
I would not dismiss them that lightly at all and Cork must be as focused as they were over the last two games.
Overall, I think the positives from a Cork viewpoint have outweighed the negatives. Maybe after the Clare match the Cork public got a bit carried away and maybe there was too much emphasis put on it at the time..
Clare, apart from the win over Kilkenny, have been poor in this league and until such time as they get the likes of Conor McGrath fully fit again and Tony Kelly fully immersed again after Ballyea’s adventure they’ll struggle.
Somebody asked on in Clare yesterday what my thoughts on Tipp were.
I still believe that they are the best team around but I think that at the same time the whole thing is getting much closer and no one team is that far ahead of the next where the top six or seven are concerned.
I believe that some of the Tipp players that were trialled during the group stages are not up to the standard and maybe their squad depth is not as great as some might have thought earlier.
They’ll beat Offaly easily next weekend no matter what 15 Mick Ryan puts out and I’d fancy Kilkenny to get past Wexford in Nowlan Park.
I believe that Galway might have a big say in the destination of the eventual title and I think they will beat Waterford next weekend.
That would give you a Tipperary, Kilkenny, Galway and Cork quartet in the semi-finals and you should get two cracking games from that lot.
But we’ll see how next weekend goes first.