‘We want to get more out of this year’

A second Munster title for Conor Lehane and while he admits he found it difficult to hold up yesterday’s achievement alongside the 2014 success, he can’t help himself.

Cork captain Stephen McDonnell lifts the cup after the Munster SHC final against Clare at Semple Stadium. Picture: Brendan Moran

“You can’t really compare because 2014 came the year after the All-Ireland, and we felt we needed to do something after losing Munster and the All-Ireland, but this obviously means a bit more because of the way the last two years went, and I’ve no doubt it would have been frustrating to be a spectator.

“It was for us as players as well, but to do this is major.

“Even the way people are different around the place weeks before games, It’s so different.

“It means the world to people and you kind of forget that at times because the last few years have been so down. And when you see how happy it makes people, it really drives you on more.”

Criticism had been coming the way of Lehane and his colleagues thick and fast and while he might not have heard or read what was being said in the media first-hand, the Cork public weren’t shy in relaying the message.

“Genuinely, whether it’s good or bad, I wouldn’t go near any of that kind of stuff. You’re better off staying away from it. You obviously know it’s there because you’re going to meet people whether it’s in town or a night out or something.

“People don’t hold back, they tell you what they think.

“You know what’s around but when it comes to play the game you have your job to do.

“It’s game-time and that’s that.

“People follow what’s going on if you’re going well. If you’re going badly they’ll be disappointed, but the crowd, in fairness today, were ridiculous. I saw a lot more red than Clare and that’s nothing against Clare. That’s just the way it goes.”

According to Lehane’s fellow forward Patrick Horgan, as long as they believed in themselves that’s all that mattered. That might not have always been the case but when they did, they knew they were going to be competitive.

“We’ve won a great Munster championship, beat three really good sides,” said the Glen Rovers man.

“I suppose no one gave us any chance but it doesn’t matter who gives you a chance as long as the fellas in the dressing-room believe.

“There’s been a strong belief in the group from early in the year that we could compete and every day we go out we’re determined to get better and every training we go out we’re determined to get better and I think that’s basically the way we go about it.

“We’re a relaxed bunch, we don’t really get hot and bothered about anything.

“Session to session, I think we got better and better and the performance on the field there today showed how far we have come. It was a great performance but we know in two weeks’ time we’re back training hard. We want to get more out of this year. We’ll see where we go.”

Horgan was never a player who seemed to fall out of love playing for Cork but being part of it now is obviously exciting for the 29-year-old, who yesterday leapfrogged Christy Ring to become Cork’s all-time top championship scorer.

“It’s a great game to be involved in, but playing for this team just gives you a great buzz.

“Like, you want to try your hardest for everyone else and you know they’re all doing the same for you. It’s just a great team and panel to be involved in. We have a great setup. You couldn’t ask for anything more.

“There’s no young or old or whatever, I think everyone just gets on with everyone. We all have a good laugh and don’t get too hyped up about anything.

“We know what has to be done, we just go out and try our hardest.”

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