Horgan: Who do they think they are, calling us flaky?

Cocooned by journalists in the offices of PwC in Dublin, Pat Horgan’s mood goes from light and breezy to dark and deep.

Horgan: Who do they think they are, calling us flaky?

Cocooned by journalists in the offices of PwC in Dublin, Pat Horgan’s mood goes from light and breezy to dark and deep.

He is 15 minutes or so into general hurling chat, from the 3-10 he hit against Kilkenny, which helped secure the PwC GAA/GPA Player of the Month award for July, to his obsession with improvement, when the subject suddenly turns to Cork’s critics.

In the wake of that All-Ireland quarter-final defeat to Kilkenny, Anthony Daly claimed the display “offered the firmest proof yet” that he was correct to say they were “the flakiest team in the country”.

It was the third year in a row after all that Cork held the lead in the second half of a huge game at Croke Park only to relinquish that lead and lose.

“Yeah, but they think they know it all, do you know what I mean?” said Horgan of Cork’s critics. “They’re not going to take my eyes off me — I watched the Leinster final, the ‘96 Leinster final on telly last week and they (games in that era) were gammy! So there’s none of them fellas going to talk about us.”

The ‘flaky’ allegation in particular seems to bother Horgan.

“I don’t know who they all think they are, fucking hell,” he continued.

They were all there too in that situation. And they all have situations where that word could be thrown at them too. If you go digging, I’m sure you’d find it. But yeah, I saw them fellas playing and I’ll leave it at that with them.

After a pause, Horgan went on: “It makes me angry though. Because hurling now is not easy. And there’s fellas covering ground and they’re lifting weights, and they’re... look, none of it is easy. Then you do something wrong, one thing wrong in a match, and the boys above in the studio...”

Horgan, arguably the best current player without an All-Ireland medal, said he respects Dónal Óg Cusack’s analysis.

He said that Cusack, “tries to dig into it as much as he can up there, get a bit modern rather than, like, get out the paddy caps and just say, ‘Oh, it’s brilliant’. The more analysts doing proper analysis, the better.”

But other pundits, he obviously has little time for. Asked if that criticism of Cork, and the charge of possessing a soft core, will add to a siege mentality within the group, he rejected the notion.

“To be honest, we don’t give a shit what they say,” said Horgan.

It’s just...the fellas that are saying it baffle me, do you know what I mean?

Cork led Kilkenny by two points at half-time of last month’s quarter-final only to be outscored by 1-8 to 0-1 in the first 17 minutes of the second half.

They ultimately lost by six points and also relinquished leads in the second half of the 2017 and 2018 semi-finals when they lost to Waterford and Limerick.

Cork legend Brian Corcoran put it down to an inherent lack of belief in the team and claimed it stems from the players not winning All-Irelands as minors and U-21s.

“I think if you asked anyone in our dressing room are we confident, do we think we’ll win games and perform in games? They’d say, ‘Yeah’,” said Horgan in response to Corcoran’s claim. “But I’d say when you’re outside looking in, it probably might look like that, I don’t know. But I don’t feel like that, and I don’t think we feel like that..

“And the underage success hopefully will be sorted in a couple of weeks. Like, we’d the best U21 team last year (Cork were upset by a last-minute Tipperary goal in the All-Ireland final), we’ll hopefully win the U20 this year, well, we’ve a chance of it anyway. So we’re not that far away from underage trophies really.

I think turning senior is a different ball game. We just need to get better ourselves. I keep saying it but it’s the truth, individually we just have to get better as players and basically get ourselves over the line.

It's Horgan’s second Player of the Month award this summer having moved to a new level of performance in the Cork attack.

Asked to explain the improvement, he said it’s partly down to being “a bit obsessed with being better all the time”, though said he’s not alone in this regard.

“It’s not only me, there’s a good shot of fellas in Cork that are at the same thing; Alan Cadogan, Shane Kingston, Conor Lehane, Robbie O’Flynn, all them, I wouldn’t even name any more because there’s a load of them. They’re 21 and I’m looking at them and thinking that if I’m not doing what they’re doing, I’ll be left behind. If I’m in there and I’m not doing what they’re doing, they’ll be gone and I won’t catch them.”

As for the management vacancy following John Meyler’s departure, Horgan said he doesn’t feel the players should have a say in who replaces him.

“We’ll just wait it out and see.”

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