Cork hurling end of season awards: From best player to low point

Éamonn Murphy reflects on the ups and downs of the Rebels' campaign
Cork hurling end of season awards: From best player to low point

Ciarán Joyce of Cork in action against Conor Whelan of Galway in Thurles. Picture: Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

TOP PERFORMER: Robbie O’Flynn.

The Erin’s Own club man has matured into the prototype modern forward and is now the most consistent member of the Rebel attack.

A prolific shooter, he hit 0-17 from six games, scoring in five of them, this summer, but his work-rate and huge engine mean he covers huge ground from the wing. A puck-out option with a good hand, O’Flynn could have had a couple of goals too, denied by flying saves against Waterford and Galway.

His soaring long-range points fired up the Cork crowd but they also appreciate his hard running and support play off the shoulder in every game. A quarter-final exit means he won’t get an All-Star but is certain to pick up a deserved nomination.

Robbie O'Flynn of Cork in action against David McInerney of Clare. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Robbie O'Flynn of Cork in action against David McInerney of Clare. Picture: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Honourable mentions: Darragh Fitzgibbon, Ciarán Joyce, Seán O’Donoghue.

BEST YOUNG HURLER: Ciarán Joyce.

It’s hard to believe the Castlemartyr native is only 20, given his physicality and maturity in possession. He started out as a midfielder in the league before stints at wing-back and in the full-back line.

By the time Cork faced Clare, the management moved him to centre-back, where he excelled as a Harty Cup winner for Midleton CBS and as the anchor of the All-Ireland winning Cork U20 teams. It was a big ask for a rookie but it didn’t phase him one bit and allowed Mark Coleman to rediscover his best form on the wing.

Joyce was arguably Cork’s best player in the All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Galway and it’s just a pity we didn’t get to see him in action at Croke Park. Will be nominated for Young Hurler of the Year, though Limerick’s Cathal O’Neill will be the firm favourite.

Honourable mentions: Alan Connolly, Tommy O’Connell.

SEASON HIGH: Beating Waterford at Walsh Park.

Cork’s desperate situation after losing their first two championship games was reflected in the small Rebel crowd at Walsh Park, where Liam Cahill had never lost.

Yet Kieran Kingston and his players brought fire and fury to what was effectively a knockout encounter from the first play, when a snarling Luke Meade earned a free. Seamus Harnedy was irrepressible while Alan Connolly pounced for the two crucial goals. Seán O’Donoghue gave a defensive master-class on Dessie Hutchinson; Darragh Fitzgibbon, Mark Coleman and Conor Lehane were immense.

Patrick Horgan overtook Joe Canning as the top-scorer of all-time but the introduction of Tim O’Mahony as a target man was a masterstroke from the selectors in the second half.

Conor Cahalane is congratulated after the Waterford win. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
Conor Cahalane is congratulated after the Waterford win. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Honourable mention: The first-half display in the league away to Limerick.

LOW POINT: Losing to Clare.

The Banner have had a brilliant season, only beaten in the Munster final after extra time and coming from behind to see off Wexford and set up an All-Ireland semi with Kilkenny.

They were superb against Cork but the Rebels’ lifeless start to that defeat left supporters fuming. Cork were far too open in defence, stood off their markers ceding ground on puck-outs and over-elabroated time and again in trying to build from the back. This exposed the worst elements of Cork’s style of play in recent seasons.

Going out against Galway was a stinging blow but Cork lost that because of awful decision-making and shooting up front and giving up two cheap goals. In the Clare defeat, they played woefully.

Mark Coleman after the Clare loss. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Mark Coleman after the Clare loss. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Honourable mention: Paying the price for their wastefulness in the All-Ireland quarter-final.

SCORERS 2022

Championship

Patrick Horgan 0-34 (0-23 f, 0-3 65); Conor Lehane 1-25 (1-0 pen, 0-6 f, 0-1 65); Darragh Fitzgibbon 3-9; Robbie O’Flynn 0-17; Alan Connolly 4-4; Seamus Harnedy 1-13; Shane Kingston 2-10 (0-1 f); Tim O’Mahony 1-3; Mark Coleman 0-9 (0-4 f, 0-1 65); Alan Cadogan 0-3, Shane Barrett, Jack O’Connor, Luke Meade 0-2; Pa Collins, Damien Cahalane, Conor Cahalane 0-1 each.

League

Patrick Horgan 1-41 (0-32 f, 0-2 65); Shane Kingston 4-24 (0-14 f, 0-1 65); Conor Lehane 1-19 (0-6 f); Darragh Fitzgibbon 2-13; Mark Coleman 0-13 (0-8 f); Robbie O’Flynn 1-10; Shane Barrett 0-9; Alan Connolly, Tim O’Mahony 1-5; Seamus Harnedy 0-7; Ciarán Joyce 0-6 (0-1 65); Luke Meade 1-2; Rob Downey 0-3; Jack O’Connor, Mark Keane 0-2; Ger Millerick, Conor Cahalane, Colin O’Brien, Sam Quirke, Alan Cadogan, Padraig Power 0-1.

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