Monday 17 December 2018

Veteran Horgan desperate for more medals with Rebels

Cork's Patrick Horgan. Photo: Sportsfile
Cork's Patrick Horgan. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

"It doesn't feel like 11 seasons," Cork sharpshooter Patrick Horgan reflects as he faces into a new campaign.

"I am the third-oldest on the panel. I'll hold on to that. I'll keep (Anthony) Nash there as long as I can."

Maybe it's the passing of time that has Horgan fussy but when he's asked to reflect on 2017, he sees an opportunity missed rather than a year of marked improvement.

The Rebels came into last year having failed to win a game in the regular league season in 2016.

They were then dumped out of Munster after an ill-advised experiment with a sweeper against Tipperary before seeing their summer ended by a first defeat to Wexford in the championship since 1956.

In that context, a Munster title and an All-Ireland semi-final appearance might seem like a good year's work but for Horgan, that defeat to Waterford in Croke Park left a sour taste.

"Winning Munster last year was good at the time, after coming from where we were the year before," he reflected as eir Sport announced details of their live coverage of the forthcoming Allianz Leagues which will see 17 games broadcast across seven weekends.

"But to finish the year the way we did was disappointing, we were in the game against Waterford, we were still in the game and then we started making stupid decisions in a five-minute spell.

"They started coming into the game more. We didn't play well the whole game but we kept in it.

"Their game-plan started coming into it and we didn't deal with it and they just closed out the game as they would. They are a good team, and they were able to do that."

Cork lost Damien Cahalane to a second yellow card that day and Waterford eventually got over the line.

Horgan also saw red in the game's dying embers. He was nonplussed by the decision at the time and says he is still not sure why he got sent off in the incident that cost Déise midfielder Conor Gleeson an All-Ireland final appearance.

Horgan took his case through the GAA disciplinary system over the close season but found no joy, meaning he will be suspended for the Rebels' leaguer opener against Kilkenny in what will be the hurlers' first competitive fixture in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

"It would be a nice one to play wouldn't it? It's not often fellas are chomping at the bit for a game in January but it's one of the games you would be dreading missing. It will be a good game, Cork's first competitive game there.

"I was actually laughing coming off the pitch because of that (red card). I still don't know why I got it but it stands anyway, I don't know why it stands."

The Glen Rovers man made a little piece of Cork hurling history last summer when overtaking the great Christy Ring in the county's all-time scoring charts.

"I didn't even think about it 'til afterwards. Kieran (Kingston) actually said it on the bus on the way down. Jesus, I don't know, it's hard to judge where it is because it was so different (the eras).

"Obviously it's something that when I stop playing, it's something to be proud of. But, now, I'd take one All-Ireland (over it) …

"It's nice to have the top-scoring record in Cork anyway. It's a small thing but it's nice to be on that list… but then they'll ask how many medals does he have and that won't be much. We've to try and change that!"

Kingston's decision to step away means Cork have a new man in charge in John Meyler.

"We didn't see it (Kingston's resignation) coming, to be honest but then, when he explained that it was work, you understand. The time he was giving to it, he actually treated the job like a full-time job.

"And he put a lot of time in. To be fair, he got a bit of a reward but I know him, and he left wanting more. And if he could have stayed, he would have. It is unfortunate that he had to go, but we just have to drive on this year with John and see what we can get out of it.

After a promising season at inter-county level, Horgan is confident the glut of new talent that has emerged for the Rebels can kick on to greater heights.

"To be fair to the lads, Luke Meade, Shane Kingston, (Mark) Coleman and Darragh Fitz(gibbon), there's bags more in them. Last year they had a lot of growing to do muscle-wise and all that. Their hurling is unreal.

"I'm not sure how much you could analyse them and stop what they are doing. Look at Darragh Fitz at midfield, when he starts running - no matter how much analysing you do you won't catch him. He's a bullet.

"Same for the others, the speed of them is ridiculous and they have the hurling then to go with it. So I'm not sure how you can stop what they are doing, and they can only get better, there's more they can develop."

Irish Independent

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