Patrick Horgan knows full well what will be said and written about Cork following their takedown of All-Ireland champions Limerick, how John Meyler’s charges have turned a corner after a shaky start to the league. But in the same way that he paid no heed to the criticism lumped on Cork’s doorstep after back-to-back league defeats, Horgan won’t feast on the praise stemming from successive victories.
“Sure, two weeks ago, people thought we were finished, saying, ‘we will win nothing, we won’t win any games’ and all this,” began Horgan when asked if he was pleased with how Cork’s spring was taking shape.
“Things have turned now and, all of a sudden, people are impressed with our league. Two weeks is a long time in this league. We know what we have in the dressing room and we are confident in ourselves.”
The 30-year-old Cork forward has clipped 1-40 across the opening four rounds, responsible for 51% of the 3-75 Cork have registered in this league. The three-time All-Star, as you’d expect, was among the Cork scorers during their late burst at the Gaelic Grounds where they outscored their hosts by 0-5 to 0-2 from the 66th minute onwards to inflict a first defeat on Limerick, in either league or championship, since June 17 of last year.
“We just kinda shut down a bit in the second half and let Limerick dictate to us. We dug in our heels for the last 10 minutes and thankfully, we stayed in front. They got it to a draw once, but we kicked on again, showed character and got the win.
Echoing Horgan’s words is his forward colleague Daniel Kearney who stressed there was nobody in John Meyler’s dressing room beating themselves up after falling short to Kilkenny and at home to Wexford.
“Inside in the camp, we are pretty level-headed and we don’t react too much to a defeat, nor do we get too caught up in a victory,” said the 29-year-old Sars man.
“We know we are working hard and are getting better every week. You know there is a long season ahead when you are starting off back in December and the championship is the focus, so you are really just trying to build slowly. We still weren’t too happy with the first two games of the league. We knew we could give a better account of ourselves and it really has been challenging over the last two months with colleges and injuries. But improving week-on-week is the main thing and we are seeing a bit of that now.”
Cork finish out the league’s group phase with a home fixture against Tipperary this Sunday. The Division 1A table shows that Limerick, out in front on six points, is the sole county guaranteed of their place in the knockout stages. Beneath them, there are five counties jostling for three spots, a mini Munster round-robin, if you will.
“To be honest, it is impossible to call,” continues Kearney, who clipped two from play at the Gaelic Grounds.
“People are looking for trends and for form, but if you look at it, I don’t think anyone called the games correctly last summer and I don’t think anyone is calling the league games correctly either. There is just nothing in it. It really comes down to how a team feels on a day. It is that finely balanced that the team that comes in with the impetus or hunger is what can make the difference. We showed a bit of maturity and composure at the death against Limerick so, hopefully, we can continue that going forward.”
Elsewhere, Cork boss Meyler has described as “enormous” the experience which Doug Howlett brings to the set-up, the former Munster and New Zealand rugby player was recently confirmed as the new Cork senior hurling high-performance lead.
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