John Horgan: Hurling means everything to Cork people, no other sport comes close

Brilliant atmosphere in Páirc Uí Chaoimh against Tipp showed why hurling is number one on Leeside
John Horgan: Hurling means everything to Cork people, no other sport comes close

Luke Meade of Cork celebrates winning a free against Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Picture: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

NOT that proof was ever needed but last Saturday’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh sizzler was another illustration of what hurling means to the people of Cork.

In the sporting arena, nothing else matters, never really did and despite the lengthy famine without a visit from the Liam McaCarthy Cup, the appetite and desire from the Cork public towards its hurlers is as great as it ever was.

Páirc Uí Chaoimh was rocking last Saturday night as Cork recovered from a five-point deficit deep into the second half to force a fully deserved draw.

Some might say that Tipperary were in an advantageous position to close out the game and maybe they were but there is a new-found character and a never-say-die attitude running through Pat Ryan’s team that provides plenty of optimism for the two gargantuan tasks that lie ahead in Cusack Park and the Limerick Gaelic Grounds.

Those traits have been in evidence since the outset of the season, those winter Sundays in the Munster League when the aforementioned character was exhibited.

Against Limerick, Cork trailed by eight points at the interval but reinvented themselves in the second half to win by the bare minimum.

It was a similar story against Tipperary in the final of that competition, Tipp ahead, coincidentally, by five points with just five minutes of regulation time remaining only to be outgunned by Cork by the time before the last whistle had sounded.

Those Cork teams on those days were very experimental but the players on duty still had that belief that they could get something from games.

Munster League victories at the turn of the year are small pickings in comparison to championship encounters but the new management team had instilled into their players to make the all out effort from the very start.

Pat Ryan has used the word attitude in nearly all his post-match comments, stressing the importance of having it right and for the most part that has served the squad well.

Cork's Niall O'Leary after the game with Shane Kingston. Picture: INPHO/Ben Brady
Cork's Niall O'Leary after the game with Shane Kingston. Picture: INPHO/Ben Brady

When the need was at its greatest last Saturday night the Cork supporters really got behind the players, you could suggest that they were the extra man that got the team the point that could be so vital in a Munster championhip that may well end up as being one of the best of all time.

Six goals were posted by hurling’s greatest rivals to add to the eight that were delivered in the Clare and Tipperary encounter a few weeks previous.

Goals in championship hurling have not been as frequent as they once used to be but when they are executed in whatever manner, they electrify the crowd and Cork’s four last Saturday were all well taken in different ways.

Deccie Dalton is a player trying to cement his place on the starting 15 and that’s no easy task given the now fierce competition for places, up to 10 players or more vying for the six positions.

His confidence levels will rise considerably as a result of his superb green flag and thereafter that confidence was on display when he nailed two huge frees.

Young Brian Hayes is in the infancy of his inter-county hurling career and you can only imagine what his goal will do for him after being in the right place at the right time to convert it.

Robbie O’Flynn’s tenacity played a huge part in his goal and it was just a pity that he was not in a position to continue after that terrific solo effort.

As stated, competition for starting places in all departments is greater now than it has been for some time and that is leading to much speculation in the public domain in the run-up to the games.


We are sick and tired of pointing out how Limerick’s depth in resources has been carrying them over the past number of years. Cork are now developing that type of strength in depth with players rally challenging each other for that coveted starting spot.

The provincial football championships are now surely dead in the water after the shambles of last Sunday’s two very lopsided finals in Munster and Connacht.

So, it’s 'thank the Lord' for the magic that continues from one year to the next in the Munster hurling championship and why it must always remain the jewel in the GAA’s crown.

Numerous viewpoints have been put forward on the decision to put major hurling games out of the reach of so many because they are not being shown on RTÉ.

I am not going to add anything to that topic only to state that Donal Óg Cusack’s observations on The Sunday Game were a breath of fresh air and how right he was in everything that he said.

A couple of the best hurling matches of the year have already taken place and so many did not get the opportunity to see them.

Clare and Waterford have the Munster hurling stage to themselves this weekend and that’s a game of huge significance again and one that will generate huge interest here on Leeside because of Cork’s trip to the Banner a week later.

If Clare are victorious, and on the evidence of their superlatives against Limerick they should be, imagine what the atmosphere will be like in Cusack Park for Cork’s visit.

Waterford, of course, should not be written off as some are already doing and with the Clare goalkeeper of their glory days of the ’90s on the line for Waterford and the man who fronted him in those times a few yards away for Clare, it adds so much more intrigue. Yes, we are fortunate to be living in a time when hurling in all its finery is being exhibited in this Munster hurling championship and when nobody really can state with any degree of certainty what is going to happen from one week to the next.

The biggest plus of all is that we have three more major weekends to be played out before the verdict of who the three teams that will enter the All-Ireland series is reached.

All five teams still have huge work ahead of them to be in that very select three.

More in this section

Sponsored Content

Echo 130Echo 130

Have you downloaded your FREE ie logo  App?

People holding phone with App

It's all about Cork!

Have you downloaded your FREE ie logo  App?

It's all about Cork!

App Store LogoGoogle Play Logo
The Echo - Women in Sport Awards - Logo



Podcast: 1000 Cork songs 
Singer/songwriter Jimmy Crowley talks to John Dolan

Listen Here

Contact Us Cookie Policy Privacy Policy Terms and Conditions

© Evening Echo Ltd, Linn Dubh, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork. Registered in Ireland: 523713

Add to your home screen - easy access to Cork news, views, sport and more