You are viewing the content for Tuesday 14 November 2006

End of the affair

FORMER Hurler of the Year Brian Corcoran is to announce his retirement from the game today.

Corcoran, who won All-Ireland SHC titles with Cork in 1999, 2004 and 2005 has cited work and family commitments as the reasons behind his decision.

He informed close friends of his plans over the weekend but is set to make the news public at a press conference to launch his new book, Every Single Ball at Croke Park this morning.

Following last year’s win over Galway, Corcoran was adamant that he would remain with the side in their bid to emulate the achievement of the Cork team (1977-79), the last side to win a hat-trick of All-Ireland SHC crowns.

However that dream was ended with defeat to Kilkenny in September’s decider at Croke Park.

This is Corcoran’s second retirement. The Erin’s Own club man walked away from the game after Cork lost to Limerick in the Munster championship of 2001 but ended his exile in 2004 — in a new role as an attacker.

Corcoran, centre back on the team which won the championship seven years ago, won two All-Ireland titles since his return, scoring two points in the 2004 victory over Kilkenny and subsequently collected an All-star.

He made his senior hurling championship debut in 1991 against Tipperary marking Pat Fox.

He also lined out for the county senior footballers throughout the nineties and played in the 1993 All-Ireland SFC defeat to Derry.

That year, he also captained the Cork hurlers, landing the NHL title, before the side were beaten by Clare.

Corcoran was in line to captain the county side again in 2007 following Erin’s Own victory over Cloyne last month. He is to see out 2006 with his club who contest the Munster club SHC semi-final against Clare champions, Wolfe Tones in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday 2pm.

His success was all the more remarkable given that he only had partial sight in one eye which he reveals in his book.

However if the side progresses to the All-Ireland Series, Corcoran’s career could extend into 2007.

Former Cork boss, John Allen, has many memories of his time in charge of the Rebels but one of the ‘most special moments’ of his involvement came on a Friday night before the All-Ireland hurling final, when he presented an award to Corcoran after training.

It was his custom to present two merit awards (rewarding something like special effort, or the impression made by a panel member) and on this occasion he felt it fitting that Corcoran should receive one.

"I probably thought that he was going to retire, even though I didn’t say it,’’ he recalled.

"It was in a dressing room in Pairc Ui Rinn and nobody was there but the players and the five selectors. After I said my few words and handed the award to Brian, everybody stood up and there was a spontaneous applause which lasted about a minute.

"It showed what everybody thought about him, the respect they had for him!’’ Recalling the early part of his career, Allen described Corcoran as one of the best centre-backs of his time, ‘a fantastic reader of the game and a great striker, left or right.’

"During the period 1992-99, when Cork were in the doldrums, he was the one player who every time could be guaranteed to have a good game. It nearly seemed that he was going to end up without an All-Ireland medal, until ‘99 came along. And even that seemed a scant reward when he retired.’’

He remembered back to the time when he became aware that Corcoran was back in training and prepared to make himself available for selection by Cork — and wondering if he was doing the right thing.

"I thought he was taking a chance, that things might not work out for him,’’ he added. "History will tell that it didn’t happen like that, because he was a very important part of our team. And he was also a very important part of our dressing room because young players looked up to him as the hero he was.

"At the beginning of this year I wondered if he would be able to continue with us, because of his work commitments in Cashel. But he was able to do so and I was delighted that his career continued for a further year.

"It was just a pity that he did not finish up with three-in-a-row.’’