Skehan: Rebels want to play as well as win

NOEL SKEHAN doesn’t bear any grudges from inter-county hurling. But that’s not to say he’s not bitterly disappointed to have lost the 1978 final which earned Cork the last championship treble.

"We didn't pay too much attention to the three-in-a-row at that time. I don't remember too much about it, except that Cork were a hell of a good team then and were going to take stopping," he said.

"We were there with a good chance until they got that goal, that handy enough goal [scored by Jimmy Barry-Murphy].

"It wasn't a case of us going out to make sure that Cork didn't get three-in-a-row, it was a case of Kilkenny going out to win an All-Ireland."

Rightly or wrongly, he doesn't believe Cork's primary motivation will be to stop Kilkenny.

"I know that they are inclined to say they left it behind them last year, but I wouldn't totally agree with that view.

"Definitely, for parts of the game they did hurl us out of it and drove a lot of wides. But, in the last seven or eight minutes, when Cork did come level and went a point ahead of us, we got the next four or five scores. And, we took over totally. We out-hurled them when it mattered. We were a stronger finishing team."

Equally, Skehan feels it would be unfair to Cork to suggest Kilkenny left the 1999 All-Ireland title 'behind them'.

"Cork got some wonderful scores. They finished the stronger team that day. I remember Seanie McGrath getting a glorious point from the corner flag. The team that finishes the stronger is the important thing. That's what you're supposed to do to keep going 'til the final whistle."

Skehan was in Thurles to see Cork scale the heights of the Munster final, before eventually losing.

"I don't think they got the ball into their full line a lot in the second half. Had they managed it, they would have won.

"Again, they played brilliant stuff against Antrim. People will say that 'it was only Antrim,' but I wouldn't subscribe to that. They ran up a fantastic score and then came along and got 1-27 against Wexford. In that game, they really played brilliant hurling.

"I'd be very disappointed if we gave the Cork half-backs as much time and space on the ball. If that happened we'd be going home at half time."

Looking back on the year, Skehan says, "Waterford were after playing the best hurling of the year, other than that first half hour of the Munster final. We knew it was going to be very hard to beat them. They are a good hurling team, but we probably took our chances a bit better.

"We're creating the chances, but that day we drove 17 wides. We should have converted half of them. Cork have some very handy hurlers, the like of Ben O'Connor, Jerry O'Connor and Joe Deane. They can take the chances. We'll have to be able to match that."

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