Sars pair Alan Kennedy and Daniel Kearney recount the nightmare county final of 2009, that feeling of emptiness at having been so ruthlessly exposed, at having failed to show up.
Goalkeeper Kennedy was beaten on three occasions, Kearney called ashore on 39 minutes. 3-22 to 1-12 the scale of their annihilation. Hurt. Pain. Frustration.
The emotions ran similarly deep last year, irrespective of the losing margin.
A second successive county final defeat, a third in six years, they could not allow.
“Sport is all about its ups and downs and we have been on the wrong end of a scoreline like that against Newtownshandrum in 2009,” said Kearney after their 2-18 to 0-8 rout of Glen Rovers.
“The game was all over by half-time. In fairness to the Glen they didn’t mean to turn up and play like that. It happened to us in 2009. Then obviously we lost to Midleton last year and it’s just not a nice place to be when that happens.
“We are delighted to get the win and another county in the bag because you are never guaranteed you will win another. We set ourselves high standards and felt we didn’t live up to them in the final against Midleton last year.
“Take nothing away from Midleton for they fully deserved to beat us, but we were hurt after that. There was a massive determination to put it right this year.
“We knew that if we lost to the Glen our record would have been three losses and three wins. That wouldn’t be good enough as far as we were concerned.”
Sars returned to training four days into the New Year. Before the first drill commenced, Pat Ryan gathered his players.
“He said fellas can beat you in hurling, they can be better on the day, but don’t lose from the lack of effort, the lack of workrate, the lack of heart,” revealed Kennedy. “Lads answered that call. This year we were never beaten on workrate, we were never beaten for heart.”
In the build-up to Sunday’s contest, the spotlight was very much centred on the Glen. Tales of Ring, Lynch and several other Glen stalwarts rang from every quarter. Sars held their counsel.
“Earlier on this summer we were listening to reports that the city teams were fading away. No way. You had three of them in the semi-finals. The city teams are back.
“We knew the build-up would be all about the Glen. We didn’t want to know about the build-up. We weren’t going to get caught up in any of that. Even the press night, we said our piece and went away again. We had a point to prove to ourselves, to the fans, to the families, that last year was just one of those years. We were hurting. We were still wounded when we went back on the fourth of January.
“To see Tadhg Óg lift the Sean Óg Murphy Cup is our reward. We couldn’t be happier. Four county titles. Happy days.”
Does Kennedy believe this group have finally earned the respect of Cork’s hurling public?
“I really hope so. Hopefully now we can go one more and do well in Munster. We could never get over the line in Munster.
“We will celebrate this and then get back down to work.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved