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Cork hurler Patrick Horgan pictured at the launch of the 2018 Fenway Hurling Classic.
Cork hurler Patrick Horgan pictured at the launch of the 2018 Fenway Hurling Classic.

Patrick Horgan hopes Cork can close the gap

By Cian O'Connell

Patrick Horgan pauses and simply nods in agreement to acknowledge it was a case of so near, but yet so far for Cork this year.

Leading by six points in the dying embers of the All Ireland semi-final against Limerick, Cork didn't close the deal so they left Croke Park with significant regrets.

"Yeah, I was just saying there while ago that it was very disappointing at the time and it still is with the way it happened," the prolific Glen Rovers clubman admits. "Being up by six with so little left it was just disappointing, but at the same time Limerick saw it out better than us. 

"On the day they were just better, we can't do anything about it, we just need to find percentages from somewhere. We have another few weeks or months before we go back training, when we do it is those small things that we are going to have to look for, to see can we close the gap even more."

It has been a curious stint for Cork, who have won two epic Munster Championships before exiting at the penultimate round nationally against Waterford and Limerick. "Obviously at the end of it all it is good to look back to say you won two Munster titles in a row and all that, but when you come off the field after losing to Limerick it couldn't matter nothing to you," Horgan reflects. 

"It is all about the next game, and the next game no matter what it is for. We just let ourselves down the year before (2017) even though we were still in the game with 10 minutes to go as well, but it was just the way it happened this year being up by six with eight to go.

"We probably should have seen that out and there are probably things we have to look at that maybe could have helped in different situations for the last 10 minutes or whatever. 

"The way situations happen we could have found something to do about it, but we didn't and fair play to Limerick they just kept ploughing through the whole match. They caught us in the end."

Having lost a replayed All Ireland Final to Clare in 2013 everything was moving well for Cork the following year until the semi-final against Tipperary.

That was another serious blow according to Horgan. "Yeah, '14 I reckon we were playing the best hurling in the country coming up to that semi-final," Horgan states.

Patrick Horgan, Cork, and Mike Casey, Limerick, collide during the All Ireland SHC Semi-Final at Croke Park.
Patrick Horgan, Cork, and Mike Casey, Limerick, collide during the All Ireland SHC Semi-Final at Croke Park.

"Tipp were flying at the time, I remember the game clear as day. We were down by two points at half-time after playing the worst half of hurling I'd ever seen from anytime. So we were saying 'right pick it up so for the second half', but we just didn't get it going. 

"Whatever happened for the next two years that seemed to have an effect on us. We were rock bottom in '15 and '16, I can't even remember what happened in those years. We came back obviously in '17."

Horgan is quick to acknowledge the contribution of former Cork boss Kieran Kingston and how John Meyler has continued to introduce emerging talent.

"Kieran and the boys too had a lot to do with it, this year Fraggy (Kieran Murphy) and John were perfect for our team," Horgan remarks. 

"They just leave the players off, it is up to every player to get the best out of themselves, don't be looking over your shoulder for another to do it. Every fella in our panel, in fairness, does that. 

"We have another couple of months to do the same thing because we just aren't at that level where we are going to win an All Ireland. If we are being beaten in a semi-final, but we are going to try to do everything we can to do it next year."

The new Championship format brought plenty of excitement and matches with the race for the Liam MacCarthy packed with teams believing silverware can be attained.

"Definitely, there isn't one game in Munster that you can say 'yeah, we will take points away from that'," Horgan comments. "Not one; you could be beaten by anyone, anytime, anywhere as well. That is the hardest thing about Munster, two teams don't make it through and you have two teams good enough to make it through. 

"That is just the way it works and Limerick dealt with it very well obviously. To play the four or five big games in Munster is tough going. It is better playing all the games. Why would you be training hard if you aren't going to be playing games. Playing the games is good, for us we got on a good roll, we won a few games. 

"It was all good, but I don't know if you started losing a few games could you do with a week off or whatever. It seems to be good, playing games is good."

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