The 28-year-old ex-AllStar acknowledged that the Rebels’ experimentation with a fortified defence exploded in their faces this year, losing two of their three Championship games.
The only positive from the summer was their three-point home win over Dublin though that was quickly forgotten when they lost to Wexford in a Round 2 qualifier.
Horgan, who came so close to winning an All-Ireland with Cork just three years ago, believes it’s time to wipe the slate clean now in terms of tactics and get back to what Cork do best.
He pointed to the style of play employed during the mid-2000s when Cork were successful under Donal O’Grady and John Allen with an all action, hard running style.
The comments suggest that current manager Kieran Kingston is in agreement and that a new look Cork will be on show in 2017.
“As everyone would probably know, that (a sweeper system) is not the way Cork play,” said Horgan. “We tried it and it didn’t suit. Cork are a team that play with pace, run the ball, get great scores and that’s obviously something we didn’t do last season and we need to get back to doing that if we are going to be competitive.
“Cork teams, especially in 2004 and 2005...that’s the way Cork play, they run, plenty of scores, exciting hurling. I think it just didn’t suit us to be going out with a spare man here, a spare man there. I think we realised that and I think we’ll probably just go back now and play the Cork way next year if we can.”
Against that backdrop of inter-county frustration, the club championship has provided real solace for Horgan. He and Glen Rovers are on cusp of a remarkable AIB Munster Club championship win, potentially their first in 40 years.
If they could do it then they would join another powerhouse of the Cork club scene, St Finbarr’s, in second position on the provincial roll of honour with four titles, one behind Blackrock.
Horgan admitted it’s been a refreshing experience so far, revealing that the club’s style is to simply play off the cuff, imaginative hurling.
“It’s weird, if you speak to fellas from other clubs in Cork and ask them about their approach to games, they’re looking at videos, looking at videos before the county final, and then they ask us, ‘what do you do?’ We didn’t even know what time we were meeting the Saturday before the county final! Someone had to send a message around the group, ‘here, what time are we meeting tomorrow?’ That’s the way we are. Everything is really relaxed.
“It’s just ‘get out and play, it’s you against your own man’. That’s the way we put it and obviously it’s something that’s working.”
Horgan agreed that it would be a nice boost for Cork hurling to bring a Munster club title back though claimed there’s been too much negativity generally surrounding the senior team’s recent dip.
“Like, Cork are coming in for a lot of criticism, I don’t know is it right or wrong,” said Horgan. “It’s a really high standard at club level. I don’t know why they get such a bad name. Last season I know we had a bad year with Cork but before that we played in All-Ireland finals, two Munster finals, two league finals, that was all in the space of four years.“Look, I know it was really bad last year just gone but we will hopefully put that right now in the coming year.”
Horgan hit the point to put Cork one up in the drawn 2013 All-Ireland final with Clare before Domhnall O’Donovan’s remarkable equaliser. Clare, of course, won the replay.
“You try not to think about it because you depress yourself,” he admitted. “You train all your life to be in situations like that and for us we were winning the match and the time was up but I suppose it was an unbelievable score from them.”