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Joe Deane, Cork, and Brian Lohan, Clare, during the 1998 Allianz Hurling League Semi-Final at Semple Stadium.
Joe Deane, Cork, and Brian Lohan, Clare, during the 1998 Allianz Hurling League Semi-Final at Semple Stadium.

GAA Legends - Joe Deane

The Bord Gáis Energy Legends Tour of Croke Park with Joe Deane takes place on Saturday July 28 at 10am. For Legends Tours ticket details click here.

By Cian O’Connell

Magical moments decorated Joe Deane’s splendid career. In the Munster Championship of 2000 holders Cork were being forced to deal with a typically passionate Limerick effort.

TJ Ryan was being remodelled as a full back and was coping impressively with Deane. Ryan burst clear from the Town goal, launched a clearance which landed in Sean Og O’hAilpin’s territory.

Within seconds the sliotar was lofted back with interest by O’hAilpin, Deane supplied a crafty flick for the ultimate flash of smooth opportunism.

Not knowing whether to laugh and marvel at the skill or cry at the sheer predatory instincts, Ryan paused for a moment and simply tucked Deane’s head in under his arm briefly. The appreciation and respect was genuine even if Limerick hearts had been fractured.

That captured Deane’s beauty and brain, but a year previously when Cork came thundering through to secure Liam MacCarthy it carried particular relevance in Killeagh.

“Looking back 1999 was very special, I was fortunate to be part of the '04 and '05 teams, but to grow up in a small place like Killeagh and to have three of us involved was special,” Deane, who hosts the Bord Gais Energy Legends Tour on Saturday morning, states.

“Bernard Rochford was the sub 'keeper, obviously Mark Landers being captain made it a very special day and to win your first All Ireland in Croke Park has to be the highlight really.

“We always had great support going to Dublin, we were on the losing end of a couple games, but we always had great days out in Croke Park. They are special memories at this stage.”

It was a classic Cork triumph. Unfancied following some disappointing Championship summers Jimmy Barry Murphy invested in youth. A wise move from the genial St Finbarr’s totem.

Cork players before the 2007 Munster SHC Semi-Final against Waterford.
Cork players before the 2007 Munster SHC Semi-Final against Waterford.

“For that year there wasn't a whole pile expected,” Deane recalls. “At the start of the year things hadn't being going great and Jimmy Barry went with a policy of bringing in young lads and giving a lot of us a good run with the team.

“The first day out in the Munster semi-final against Waterford he had five debutants. So there wasn't a lot expected and even going into the final Kilkenny were hot favourites. The day it was too, it was a horrible day, raining all day, even during the match.

“It was nip and tuck the whole way, it could have gone either way, but in the last 10 or 15 minutes we put on a few subs, got a few great scores, and got over the line. To have three of us involved from the same club made it a very special day.”

The following decade brought pain and pleasure, but Deane acknowledges the deep bond which existed. Two more All Ireland titles were secured, but that only told some of the Cork story.

“We went through a lot together,” Deane admits. “A lot of us played together at minor level - Sean Og, Mickey O'Connell, Timmy McCarthy, Donal Og, that kind of crew. Some of us had played minor together and came through with the Under 21s.

“We were always very close. Then you had the difficulties with the strife, we spent an awful lot of time together during a couple of winters which would bring you even closer together. We had been through so much together on and off the field that you felt you had to prove yourself after the strike of 2002.

“That definitely made the group even tighter and it probably will be a team that will be remembered.

“We had good characters Donal Og in goals, Sully full back, he was a great character, Sean Og. We had good players throughout the team with Ben and Jerry, Tom Kenny, and Niall Mac, too many to mention, but we definitely had great days out.”

In the Midleton CBS, Killeagh, or UCC jerseys Deane had shown plenty of potential. Cork accumulated underage success and that was important for the future according to Deane.

Joe Deane in action during a famous 2008 All Ireland SHC Qualifier against Galway at Semple Stadium.
Joe Deane in action during a famous 2008 All Ireland SHC Qualifier against Galway at Semple Stadium.

“At Harty Cup level too we had a good bunch of us together with Midleton, but I think the underage helped us,” Deane acknowledges.

“In '96 the senior team had a very poor year, we were beaten in the first round by Limerick and well beaten. Being knocked out of the Senior Championship early those years gave us time to spend together at Under 21 level. I think that was very important for our development.

“We never feared anyone then once we got competitive at adult level. We knew we had beaten those teams at Under 21 level and it gave us great confidence that we had the ability to deliver because we had done it at minor and Under 21. It definitely gave the team confidence as the years went on.”

Cork’s imminent Croke Park tussle with Limerick carries real intrigue and Deane is excited about returning to GAA headquarters.

“We had a lot of good days in Croke Park so it is nice to go back in a bit more of a relaxed setting to look back on the various days we had and to also look forward to Sunday,” Deane says about the Legends Tour. “It is a big game, everyone in Cork and Limerick is looking forward to it.”

“It should be an absolute belter of a game, everyone is really looking forward to it. I was down at Pairc Ui Chaoimh the night of the drawn game in the Munster Championship, there was nothing between the teams.

“Limerick will take great confidence from that on the basis that they had a man sent off and Declan Hannon went off injured. They will take great confidence that they got a result that night. The performance the last day against Kilkenny was fantastic, when they looked dead and buried they came back to pull out a result. Limerick teams in the past and a lot of teams in the past wouldn't have been able to do that.

“From a Cork point of view Cork are undefeated which has to give great confidence to the lads. I'd say it will be very tight.

“It wouldn't surprise me if the game went either way, but I think Cork have been there for the last number of years winning a couple of Munsters while this team is developing. So hopefully they can come out the right side of a couple of points win.”

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