BEATEN but unbowed, Jimmy Barry Murphy's Rebel hurlers vowed that they will be back for the Liam MacCarthy Cup next year.
More than 5,000 fans defied the rain to throng Cork city centre to cheer on the Cork hurlers after their gallant defeat to Clare in the replayed All-Ireland hurling final.
The defeat was all the more galling for Cork given that they were just seconds away from winning the county's 31st hurling crown on September 8.
"You are the best supporters in the world. . . thank you for the great backing. It is not a very nice evening weather-wise, and we are all very disappointed we didn't bring the cup back for you," Murphy told the crowd.
"But this is a young side with great heart. I guarantee that we will be back here in the future with the Liam MacCarthy Cup."
Star player Tom Kenny said that while Cork players were bitterly disappointed, they realised that both matches were a wonderful advertisement for hurling.
"They were fantastic, incredible games, not just for Cork and Clare fans but for everyone who loves hurling as a game. It was a privilege to be part of them but disappointing that we aren't able to bring the cup back."
Veteran Rebel fan and Bishop of Cork Dr John Buckley said the two matches against Clare represented the greatest All-Ireland hurling finals he had ever watched.
Cork Co GAA board chairman Bob Ryan also vowed that the Rebels would bounce back in 2014. "This is a very young team and great things lie ahead for them in the future," he said.
Lord Mayor Catherine Clancy said Cork's heroics in both matches had left the county deeply proud and had delivered what many were hailing as the most thrilling All-Ireland of modern times.
She was joined by Cork County Mayor Noel O'Connor as both performed an impromptu dance to the Leeside rap hit, 'The JBM'.
Meanwhile, Cork's victorious ladies footballers will savour their homecoming at 6pm this evening after winning their eighth All-Ireland title in nine years.
The Rebelettes will parade the Brendan Martin Cup throughout Cork city centre before a special reception on the Grand Parade.