HURLING icon Patrick Horgan still has the desire to pull on the Cork jersey again in 2023, if new manager Pat Ryan gives him the call-up.
The 34-year-old spoke about his career in Rebel red, becoming the all-time top-scorer in championship and getting dropped this summer in a fascinatingpodcast with Alan O'Mara.
At the time of the interview, Ryan hadn't been officially appointed as Kieran Kingston's replacement but Horgan is hoping his form with Glen Rovers in the upcoming Premier SHC will impress the new management.
"I’m not going to say I want this or I want that because I’m only a player. It’s not in my hands, all I can do is play as hard as I can with the club to get a call to come in and play.
"Whoever comes in will need to be impressed and if he is, he’ll call ya and if he’s not, you won’t be in his plans."
⭐ New episode of the Players Voice is now live; All-Time Hurling Championship Top-Scorer Patrick Horgan shares his story!@Hoggie088 @OfficialCorkGAA @GlenRovers_ @AOMTHECAT— GPA (@gaelicplayers) July 21, 2022
👂 https://t.co/8lu8exDBTX pic.twitter.com/WQPRM35CUp
Horgan admitted he was surprised to be dropped from the line-up for the Antrim and Galway games this summer, having been replaced by Tim O'Mahony in the second half of the Munster Championship wins over Waterford and Tipp.
“Ya it was a surprise to me because taking out the age thing I still think I can play at that high level. Hopefully.
"There are only 15 fellas when a team is named on a Thursday night. There are another 21 fellas disappointed on a panel of 36 and I was one of them this time."
Using all his experience, he parked up his disappointment to offer the best support he could to the starting forwards.
"Everyone who took to the field brought positives as well so you can’t exactly say ‘I should be playing ahead of him and him…’
"I looked at myself more than anything to think about how I could push on. I felt I had done that [at training] in the space between those games but it wasn’t to be.
"The other players that came in were really good because we’ve savage players all over the field. When the team was named we were sharing advice on different movement and so on. We’re good buddies so that’s how it worked.”
He looked sharp after being introduced for the second half of the All-Ireland quarter-final in Thurles but Cork were beaten by a point in a game they dominated for long spells, which Horgan felt proves the “better team doesn’t always win on the day.”
“We thought we could have performed a lot better between missed chances and the goals that went in against us. Losing any way is hard. We thought we were going in the right direction and we’d something to build on. Nothing went right up in Thurles. Usually, we’re more efficient with our shooting and Galway took their two goals and really put us on the back foot.”
Whatever about the frustrating conclusion to the campaign, he made history by overtaking Joe Canning and Henry Shefflin as the top-scorer in hurling history.
“It’s nice to have it for now and when I stop playing it’ll be something to be proud of. When I started in 2008 you’d Henry, Eoin Kelly of Tipperary and they were Gods, players I really looked up to. For Joe to do it last year, a massive achievement as well. They’ve the medals and that’s something I’m still chasing so this is only a small token really.”
That Horgan doesn't have a Celtic Cross is one of the injustices of modern hurling but his grá for the great game is his biggest motivation.
"I would look back at it and say I enjoyed hurling and I still love playing hurling. I enjoyed every minute of it.
"Would a medal have made it any better? Possibly but only because it would have made better memories within those 15 years. No medal is disappointing so far but I really enjoyed it and that’s the most important thing.
“If any kid starts out playing hurling to win then just don’t do it. Go down training on a Tuesday night and come home looking forward to going back training again on Thursday. That’s my thinking. Maybe that’s because I don’t have a medal…”
Despite being considered one of the most gifted stickmen to ever hurl for Cork and Glen Rovers, Horgan is still searching for ways to improve.
“We have training at half six, quarter to seven and you’re nearly late if you’re there any later than 5pm. We love each other’s company. We’re really close off the field as well.
"Going down training and just trying to get a small bit better all the time, the whole process of becoming a better player is what I’m obsessed with. I think I’m a bit crazy sometimes how much I think about improving.”
That compulsion has been there since he was impressing in the Féile when still U12 and coming into the Glen's senior squad as a 16-year-old
"I remember years ago playing with the Glen and Tomás Mul was our manager and he’d come into the Glen most days and hunt me because he’d say ‘keep a bit in ya, don’t burn yourself out, don’t mentally drain yourself…’
“I was hiding in the field and all to try and do a bit more. I was thinking ‘why is he saying to go home, I’m never going to get sick of it like!’
"It’s been the same since then. Even if training went on all night I’d stay on."
Finding a balance in his life has become more important since Horgan and his wife Ashley welcomed baby Jack earlier this year.
“I do try when I’m away from it to be where I am. Whether that’s with my buddies or with baby Jack whereas before I could have been staring into space thinking about hurling even when people are talking about completely other stuff. I’ve got better at that. My mind isn’t always on hurling.
"I became aware of it in 2017 when we had Gary Keegan in with Cork. It's not an easy thing to do, to have control over your own thoughts but he put drills in place and they worked for me. I'd head away to Dingle for a few days, not even bring my phone, and it was class to get away from it.
"What worked for me was at the start of the day, a minute or two, trying to have control over your thoughts, your breathing and I built that up to five, 10 minutes a day. When I went away for a few days then, it was the same."
Horgan, a rep with Dulux Paints, also helped set up Pro-Hurling this year, Ireland’s first hurling e-academy, along with another deadly Cork forward Amy O'Connor. The online tutorials include lessons from Lee Chin, Noel McGrath and, from this month, Tony Kelly, Declan Hannon and Austin Gleeson.