"Savage" Limerick still the team to beat in Liam MacCarthy Cup race says Cork veteran Patrick Horgan
THE team to beat in this year's Liam MacCarthy Cup race? That's one of the easier questions for a veteran like Patrick Horgan.
“They're a savage team,” says the Cork forward who'll begin his 15th Championship season for the Rebels when they line out against the Treatymen in the first round of the Leinster round robin in 10 days' time.
After losing to Limerick in last year's All-Ireland final, Cork turned the tables on John Kiely's men in the League this year. The Rebels won 2-19 to 1-13 at the Gaelic Grounds and Horgan top-scored with eight points but the Glen Rovers forward says the three in-a-row chasing Treatymen continue to set the pace in the Championship.
“They're the team to beat this year and there's no way they can hide from that or anyone can hide from that,” said Horgan who recently launched ProHurling, Ireland's first ehurling academy at prohurling.ie.
“They're a serious outfit and we know that first hand.”
Horgan posted a dozen points in last year's All-Ireland final but Cork just couldn't cope with Limerick's firepower and in the end they lost by 16 points, 3-32 to 1-22.
“When you get to a final you want to perform and we didn't, that was clear for everyone to see,” said Horgan.
“We didn't play at all so there's hurt that way because it's so hard to get to finals and there's so much competition out there. Waterford have lost a lot of finals and that's the journey they've been on and we're on it too.
“Losing finals isn't great but you can see a bit of consistency coming as regards to getting to the final last year – only one team (Limerick) beat us – and this year we've got to the League final so the team is definitely moving in the right direction.”
Cork lost last Sunday's National League Hurling final to Waterford but Horgan insists that the Rebels got what they wanted out of the competition. New players were introduced and acquitted themselves well and Kieran Kingston's men returned to training last night with confidence high.
“Obviously it was disappointing to lose the final but when you look back at it and take the League all as one: Did we get what we wanted out of it? I think we did,” said Horgan.
“We have a lot of new players who got a lot of time and a lot of them showed that they're really up to it. It was disappointing on Sunday but overall I think we showed what we're capable of and there were a lot of positives to take from it.
“There were even positives to take from the final. There were six or seven minutes to go and from the way the game was going and the goals they were getting you would nearly think the game was over but there was only four points in it and we hadn't done much and our efficiency in shooting wasn't great. There are bigger days and ahead and they're what you need to be right for.”
Away from the field, Horgan's concept ProHurling is aimed at boys and girls from age 5-16 and Horgan sees it was a way of getting the hurling message to kids during ‘screen time'.
“It kind of stems from my own niece and nephews,” he said.
“Anytime I've called up to them they seem to be glued to the Playstation, an Xbox or an iPad and they don't even see you there.
“I thought: ‘How can you get them off their games or away from the screen?' To be fair they all have a big interest in hurling so it's not that that's their thing, being on the computer. They love hurling too.
“I thought it was just an idea that maybe if we got exciting videos of something that they're interested in, which would be hurling and sport, they can watch that video for five minutes and maybe that will give them a bit of drive to think: 'What I'm after seeing now I'm going to go out the back and practice'. And just get away from screen time basically.”