The Irish Mail on Sunday
We’d be better off losing in Munster, says former Déise star Peter Queally
you can’t sit down with 30 fellas and talk to them and get to know them. ‘We went on that holiday and, you might think I’m only saying this, but the 30 fellas are really tight now, whereas last year you probably wouldn’t know how to approach a fella. Not even that, it’s just that you wouldn’t know them.
‘A fella comes in and he’s doing his own routine and you’re doing your routine and you just get on with your own thing really, but that brought the panel very close together.’
Cork fans expect victory, because of their history, because of the aura around Barry Murphy and because of the unexpected hope they felt last year. Their underage inadequacies are now well ventilated: no All-Ireland minor title since 2001, no Under 21 title since 1998.
In a new book analysing recent hurling seasons, the Fitzgibbon Cup strengths of UCC and CIT are identified as important HARD to think of the last time Cork handed Munster Championship starting debuts to a full-back, centre-back and midfielder, all in the one go. Make no mistake, Cork’s season is most likely to hinge on whether Damien Cahalane, Mark Ellis and Aidan Walsh prove to have the pedigree for such key positions.
Walsh certainly adds raw strength and power to the middle and Jimmy BarryMurphy certainly can’t be faulted for a lack of nerve or conviction in his team selection.
Being stripped of so many key players hardly does Waterford any favours in trying to address a lack of goal-scoring threat up front. A natural successor to the likes of John Mullane or Dan Shanahan has yet to emerge and it’s a bit premature to expect last year’s minor star Austin Gleeson to fill those sort of boots – at least not just yet.
VERDICT: Cork CORK: A Nash; S O’Neill, D Cahalane, S McDonnell; C Joyce, M Ellis, L McLoughlin; D Kearney, A Walsh; C Lehane, C McCarthy, P Cronin; A Cadogan, S Harnedy, P Horgan. WATERFORD: S O’Keeffe; T de Búrca, L Lawlor, N Connors; J Nagle, M Walsh, B Coughlan; K Moran, E Barrett; C Dunford, P Mahony, A Gleeson; B O’Sullivan, S Walsh, J Dillon. CORK only managed to put up a score of 0-14 at the same venue in the League and the way Laois set up, this looks likely to be an eyeball-to-eyeball tussle. While both have already secured a quarter-final berth, Laois will have their sights set on top spot and a shot at Wexford.
VERDICT: Laois LAOis: E Reilly; JA Delaney, B Campion, B Stapleton; J Fitzpatrick, M Whelan, D Palmer; C Dunne, P Whelan; J Purcell, W Hyland, S Maher; N Foyle, R King, T Fitzgerald. AnTRim: C O’Connell; O McFadden, N McAuley, C Johnson; A Graffin, C McKinley, S McCrory; E Campbell, B McFall; C McCann, C Carson, N McManus; C Clarke, M Donnelly, C McGuinness. nourishment for the emerging Cork, and selector Seanie McGrath singles out Nash as a potential figurehead.
‘All I can say is he is a leader. He is going to drive us on in the years to come. Nash will make sure the youngsters hit their potential,’ insists McGrath.
Horgan is another who will be seen as a natural support for captain Pa Cronin, and he speaks of big ambitions with no room left for failure.
‘After getting to the final last year, we think if we don’t get to the final this year it’s not good enough.
‘If you take soccer, for instance, if Liverpool finish fourth or fifth next year they’re not going to be happy. We got to the final last year; if we’re beaten in a quarter-final this year, you couldn’t be happy with that; you can’t be happy with going backwards.
‘The honest answer is if we don’t win it it’s not good enough. If we get to the final and lose, it’s not good enough.’
PETER QUEALLY will travel to Semple Stadium this afternoon with the memories of what happened 15 years ago in the Munster Championship still fresh. A Cork team, managed by Jimmy Barry Murphy, who rolled the dice on his own future by including a bunch of rookies. The parallels between then and now are easily drawn.
While he guides the Waterford intermediate team in the curtainraiser in Thurles today, back then he was wing-back in a game that proved to be a defining fixture in the evolution of Cork hurling. Little did he know. If the result had been different, Cork icon JBM most likely would not have enjoyed a second coming as manager.
‘The Jimmy Barry Murphy thing and the pressure he was under at the time, we would have been oblivious to that,’ he says.
‘The one thing that sticks out for me is Mickey O’Connell who was a debutant. He had an able partner as well in Mark Landers – they chipped in with 10 points which was almost unheard of for a midfield combination.’
It was Barry-Murphy’s selector – current sidekick Seanie McGrath – that occupied his attention. ‘I remember trying to catch up with Seanie McGrath on a few occasions – it was my first taste of his pace.’
Cork’s will-o-the-wisp forward didn’t score back then but the damage was done elsewhere. By September, the victors were crowned All-Ireland champions. Queally, a forceful, robust leader in defence, can’t help but wonder what might have been at a time when Tony Browne was the reigning Hurler of the Year.
‘There was another one in 2001 where we were cruising against Limerick and ended up losing. That and the Cork match in ’99 are the two years where I reckon that if we had got over the line, we could have gone a long way in championship. What we needed more than anything was a championship run where you had four or five matches to really build a team.’
A quirk of fate, too, conspired against Waterford, he believes.
‘The back-door was slightly different back then. It started out where if you were beaten in a provincial semi-final, you were gone whereas if you won, you were guaranteed at least two more games.
‘So it was a massive pressure game for both teams. The stakes were fierce high compared to now where it nearly suits teams to lose.’
He cites Clare’s defeat to Cork in Munster last year as a perfect case in point; or Tipperary’s shock hammering in the first round in 2010. Both counties recovered to lift the Liam MacCarthy Cup.
‘One hundred per cent that’s the reality,’ he says of it suiting counties to lose in certain years. You win and you won’t see any cracks, any weaknesses. Lose and you’re forensically examined. It can turn out to be blessing then when you discover what you need to work on. ‘Cork hammered Tipp in 2010 and you could see as the year went on what Liam Sheedy did with the team. He developed a totally different style, brought in the Bonner Mahers, ball-winners, and it transformed Tipp’s team, transformed their season. ‘If that was a winner-takes-all match and Tipperary lost by 10 points, sure Liam Sheedy would have got the road.’
t he final whistle was greeted by the famous sight of Barry Murphy, the epitome of cool on the sideline, throwing off the shackles and sprinting across the field to hug his players in the manner of a star-struck supporter. It meant that much.
FOR SOMEONE who came so close to landing the Waterford senior job, Derek McGrath just edging him out, Queally has a lot of faith that the players can provide an unexpected script. ‘I think Cork are very vulnerable. I know Derek and the lads wouldn’t want me saying that, they’re happy to play things down, but this game is made for Waterford. They’re coming in under the radar, are blooding a lot of players who came through in the League.
‘Cork are there as last year’s AllIreland finalists. I’m sure the talk there is that this is a game they should be winning – and winning handily. ‘But I don’t see it that way.’ Especially with the clutch of youngsters so reminiscent of the gamble Barry Murphy took back in 1999.
At the final whistle, JBM threw off the shackles and sprinted across the pitch