ON Saturday evening last, while in conversation with a former Ballydesmond native, now an urban dweller, even though some from Ballincollig still believe in the village myth.
Anyway, this gentleman made his profound prediction that Cork would defeat Waterford and that the Munster final would be between Clare and Limerick. His analysis was simple; he grew up watching the Clare team pre-1995, doing reasonably well in the league only to capitulate on the knockout championship day.
In his opinion, this Waterford team is similar. He wasn’t stating that Cork were brilliant, just that they would emerge from Walsh Park with a win.
Honestly, I thought no more of the wise Duhallow man’s advice until he sent the following text on Sunday night “Cork too good for Waterford. Limerick and Clare in a Munster final. I’d become a pundit, but I want to keep my good name.”
Last weekend, I implied that another Cork capitulation would be damaging to the Cork brand. Maybe a little over the top, but it would most certainly have extended the long shadow of doubt, not only over the management but also the players.
Thankfully for both, that didn’t happen. Let's be honest, the majority of the fans deserted the ship, Walsh Park wasn’t even at capacity.
Prior to Sunday, the apportioning of blame was relentless with the two coaches Pat Mulcahy and Noel Furlong being particularly targeted. Meanwhile back at the ranch, the much-maligned voluntary personnel had to shift through the debris and come up with a plan to save the Cork season from early termination.
We are not at the level of figuring out why they were up and at it from the off, but it would be stretching reality to its outer limits if we suggested that they could have taken some inspiration from the county footballers? I might have to think about that again!
Diarmuid O’Sullivan was a spectator at that game and isn’t it possible that, he mentioned to himself “if these football boys can die with the boots on, why can’t we?”
I should also state, that the Rock as he is effectively-known, is and always has been a proud supporter of Cork football teams.
I am aware, that laying into the opposition may not be an entry in many modern coaching manuals, but for the purpose of this column, it will do just fine. Cork laid into Waterford last Sunday and I would suggest that it paid dividends.
Luke Meade started, he comes from a club where 'laying in' is part of their DNA. Most of the pundits were full of praise for his role.
Robbie O’Flynn was one of Cork’s leading players in the two well below-par performances and while he was a little quieter on Sunday, it was fitting that he played a key role in Cork’s opening goal nicely finished by Alan Connolly.
What about Shane Kingston? Maybe it is just me, but I think that a father of a player should not be involved in inter-county team management where he has a son involved.
That said, it appears that it is not an issue for the Kingston family. Shane has been taken off, has not started and he still continues to be a seriously valuable player for this Cork team.
When introduced on Sunday, he made vital contributions at both ends, his scoop across the Waterford goal was a key assist for Alan Connolly’s second goal.
Equally, his willingness to adopt the mindset of a blue-collar worker and head back to the defensive zone prevented a number of Waterford scores. But I still think that it can’t be an easy task for Kieran Kingston.
The introduction of Shane Kingston was not the only call that the previously maligned management team made on Sunday.
Patrick Horgan is already assured of positive acclaim from this and future generations. His scores last Sunday puts him on the top of a thinly populated pedestal.
He is now the all-time highest scorer in inter-county championship hurling with a tally of 22-505: 571. Of that 15-150, has come from play, further evidence of his incredible talent over a 14-year period.
Some would argue, that taking him off was one sure way of the management getting their collective P45s.
Tim O’Mahony coming in as a forward wasn’t akin to sending a TJ Reid clone into battle, but it worked a treat. The Newtownshandrum man is a well-built, skillful unit and he collected a few long deliveries which transferred into scores.
Didn’t the junior hurler from St Ita’s do well! Seamus Harnedy was up and at it from the word go and swung over a few inspirational beauties.
In the end, this victory was as much about the brand as about the team. Over the past few weeks, the Munster reds and the Liverpool version had made serious inroads.
Now this victory has rolled back the decades, a trip to Tipp for a knockout championship match against the locals.
The performers on the pitch and on the sideline will even have to be better than last Sunday, but a Rebel supporting army decked in the red of this great county could very well be the required pinch of salt.