Unsurprisingly, Patrick Horgan was Cork’s top scorer in the Allianz Hurling League Division 1 campaign just gone, notching 3-42 across the four and a half games in which he played.
The only match the Rebels captain didn’t start was the defeat away to Limerick in round 4, but he still emerged as the chief marksman on that occasion, landing nine points, six frees and a pair of 65s. In total, 0-32 of his total was from dead balls – not an excessive figure for 315 minutes of hurling.
If hurling is become a free-taking contest as made out in some quarters, it’s not a party that Cork are being invited to, Horgan feels.
“It's strange,” he said at the launch of Centra's Community Matters campaign.
“I hear a lot about it but I haven't been involved in any of them, we don't seem to get that many frees.
"I'd always say, going back to the point where it's happening in other games where there's a lot of frees and all of that, like, I would always say that if it's a free you have to blow it, what else are you going to do?
“Just try to keep someone happy at home? Like, you can't not give a free if it is a free, that would be my take on it.”
At the beginning of the delayed GAA season, there were overblown fears for the future direction of hurling, but Horgan’s views would chime with those of Galway’s Joe Canning, who said earlier this week that the game is improving.
“Yeah, I completely agree with him,” he said.
“It's everyone looking at – and it's the same in all parts of life these days – it's always looking for the worst in something instead of looking at how good it actually is and how good the game has become, skill-wise and speed and fitness-wise.
“The game is just evolving and it's getting better all the time.”
Sunday’s five-point loss at home to Galway meant that Cork finished their Group A programme in fifth place of six teams after beating Waterford and Westmeath, drawing away to Tipperary and losing to Limerick and Tribesmen. Without context, it looks like a poor return but it masks the fact that they were a point off second and were top of the ‘live’ table in the closing stages of the final match.
Horgan certainly isn’t downbeat facing into a Munster SHC semi-final against Munster, league and All-Ireland champions Limerick at Semple Stadium on Saturday, July 3, feeling that Cork got more good than bad from the league.
“Yeah, I suppose, with 10 minutes to go the other day we were top of the league and by the end of the game we were fifth so that will tell you how competitive the whole league is,” he said.
“I suppose, look, we learned a lot of things from it. Obviously, there were a couple of disappointing parts from it, probably more positives than negatives.
“We'll have a good run into the championship after that. We know what we have to work on anyway.”
One clear positive was that Horgan’s three goals were joined by 15 more from his teammates as the possession-style game paid off handsomely at times. Ultimately, it’s a case of maximising your assets.
“I think even down through the years Cork were always known as a running team,” Horgan said.
“I suppose most other teams are near enough the same, every team is really fit now these days and it's just trying to get the best out of the players you have.
“With the players, we have that running style kind of suits a lot of them. It's probably the best way to get the best out of ourselves.”