Monday 19 August 2019

Horgan: 407 points on board and gunning for more

Record-breaking Rebel staying grounded as he chases elusive All-Ireland medal

Patrick Horgan in typical pose taking a free. Photo: Sportsfile
Patrick Horgan in typical pose taking a free. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Last year, Patrick Horgan overtook Christy Ring's scoring record for Cork.

A fortnight ago, his manger John Meyler described the Rebel sharpshooter as an "artist" and name-checked Lionel Messi after describing his brilliant goal against Limerick.

Last weekend, Horgan's tally for Cork soared past the 400-point mark to take him deeper into hurling's all-time scoring feats, where he is joined by some of hurling's deities.

For the most part, talk of records and favourable comparisons pass him by. He didn't know he'd overtaken Ring's record until after the fact and it was the same last weekend when his 1-9 against Limerick brought him to 14-365 (407) in the championship for Cork.

That feat put him within touching distance of Kilkenny great Eddie Keher and Tipp's Eoin Kelly.

"Yeah, jeez, that would be a real big deal to be honest," Horgan said as he was named GAA/GPA Player of the Month for May.

"Just because I think that Eoin Kelly is the best that ever played.

"Yeah, he's the best. It's changed as well. The scoring has gone a lot higher in games in the last few years. But yeah, jeez, it's something I'd be delighted if it ever happened... I'm delighted as it is."

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Kelly in his pomp holds a special place in Horgan's memory.

"Just because of what he was able to do, the scores he could get, the touch, the striking. There's not much else you can do. He had it all, you know?"

"Passing (Ring) last year was huge, obviously in Cork because going into first spot in scoring is nearly mad to think it.

"It'll be big obviously when I've stopped playing, I don't know when that will be, but when I do it's something that will be nice to look back to and say, 'Jeez, I have that record,' or whatever. But until then I'll try to get another 400 if I can," he smiled.

Outside of all the personal praise, Horgan will get on with the business of trying to win an All-Ireland with Cork. The county have won Liam MacCarthy in every decade since the formation of the GAA but 2019 is their last chance to sustain that record.

A first-round defeat at home to Tipp meant that Cork went into their second game with Limerick with their backs to the wall. The Rebels were effectively only one more slip-up away from disaster.

"The year (was on the line)," he replied when asked what was at stake in that Limerick clash.

"The whole year, basically. We know how tough it is. Being beaten by Tipp and then going up to play the All-Ireland champions, it doesn't sound easy. We knew we had confidence to play them because we'd been competitive in previous outings against them.

"At half-time, it was nip-and-tuck. In the second half - I don't know how it happened - we just went into a lead, got a goal, and didn't look back."

It was a win but one that won't make his summer. And as for getting his hands on that elusive All-Ireland medal? He has seen seasons take too many twists and turns to give that sort of talk any credence at this stage of the season.

"I know how competitive hurling is at the moment," he said.

"In Munster there are five teams, only three can come through. Any five of those could win the All-Ireland never mind going through via the top three-out-of-five scenario. So nothing is guaranteed, it's more competitive than it's ever been.

"Then if you're lucky enough to get out you have to go and play teams from Leinster which gets tougher again. There's nothing easy, nothing will be handed to you. It just needs to be your day."

Cork go again on Saturday night when a Waterford team with nothing to play for come to Páirc Uí Chaoimh. It's a fixture that carries its own dangers.

"The thing is with these five teams in Munster, every game is tough. There's no such thing as, 'Oh yeah, you'll get a win here or there'. You're not guaranteed anything.

"It was unlucky for Waterford that they just came out the wrong side of a few results and like especially playing Tipp...

"We were just lucky enough to get a result against Limerick obviously but you just might get a bad run of it and that's what happened them obviously."

A win this weekend would put the Rebels in a strong position to progress to another Munster final, where they could try and win three in a row in the province.

And even though they have tripped up at the semi-final stage in each of the last two years after winning Munster, Horgan is convinced that the front door is the way to go.

"Sure we're training an unbelievable amount of months like, so you can't just turn around then and say we're not interested in winning a trophy.

"People say try and qualify in third, why would you not want to get to a Munster final?

"They're the days when you're a child that you go to with your dad, they're what dreams are made of, that day and all that goes with it.

"You'd bite your hand off for a place in a Munster final."

Irish Independent

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