Pat Ryan won’t try and stop the hype after Cork clinch All-Ireland final place at the expense of Limerick

‘We get confident after winning a tiddlywinks match!’

Cork's Pat Ryan
Cork's Pat Ryan
All-Ireland SHC semi-final
Limerick 0-29 Cork 1-28

IT was kind of inevitable that it had to be someone like Cork to end Limerick’s awesome dominance of the Liam MacCarthy.

It’s just in them. It’s part of their DNA to embrace a challenge more than maybe others.

And so the Rebels closed the book on Limerick’s historic ‘drive for five’ in unforgettable circumstances at Croke Park yesterday.

For Pat Ryan, there were heroes in every line.

Few teams have mastered that oft-times impenetrable Limerick half-back line – but Cork found a way.

Declan Dalton, Shane Barrett and Seamus Harnedy were perpetual motion.

Fast. Accurate. Brave.

Darragh Fitzgibbon ran the show in midfield. Head and shoulders above anyone else at a heaving Croke Park.

Further forward, Alan Connolly and Brian Hayes had outstanding games and veteran Pa Horgan popped up with a couple of beauties to seal this memorable win – and in doing so exorcised the bitter memory of the 2021 All-Ireland final defeat against the same opponent.

Only the game of hurling can produce days like these. Cork were in the ascendancy for large parts of the first half.

But Limerick refused to die, they battled their way into contention, and could’ve nicked it at the death.

In those closing moments, anarchy reigned all over the field – and yet, 30 minutes later, Pat Ryan strolled into the press room on the ground floor of the Hogan stand looking like he’d just won a Division One game in the middle of March – and not a truly epic All-Ireland semi-final encounter.

“I have to pay tribute to Limerick and what champions they’ve been – what they’ve given to the GAA itself,” said the Cork manager.

“What they’ve achieved is absolutely superb. They’ve brought the game to a new level and they’re testing all of us to get better and bring us to a new level both on and off the field. We were lucky to get over the line today.”

While every preview in newspapers and online didn’t expect Cork to upset the odds, Ryan was sure of one thing.

“I didn’t have any doubt that we weren’t going to perform today. You could see it in training.

“Obviously, there was a lot made of maybe the lacklustre performances against Offaly and Dublin but, look, from where we came from after losing the first two games in the Championship, that took an awful lot of energy, emotional and physical energy to get over Limerick and Tipperary in those games.

“There was a lot of preparation needed to get us back into the Championship and we’ve driven on from there.”

Now, it’s about managing the hype in the Rebel County ahead of their July 21 All-Ireland final meeting with Clare.

But Ryan already feels that’s a lost cause.

“It would be impossible to quell it down in Cork, to be honest with you. We get confident after winning a Tiddlywinks match!

“So, from our point of view, it’ll be just minding it from ourselves. But fellas are amateur men.

“They’re going into schools, they’re going into work, they’re going into their families. But from our point of view, we know the job’s not finished.”