Tuesday, September 13, 2005

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Well thank Christ their gaelic football team is still a bit dodgy! The clear dominant force in hurling, proudly atop the Eircom League, home of Ireland's two greatest sportspeople of the last 15 years, added to their general bolshie superiority complex- had Billy Morgan's team somehow beaten Kerry a few weeks ago the People's Republic of Cork would surely have become a political reality.

As it is the Leesiders have to be content with adding another Liam McCarthy Cup to the honour roll, and with it the anointing of a new generation of hurling legends. The current team, with three final appearances and two titles, has an impressive enough CV, until you consider that that the backbone of the team (Cusack, O hAilpin, O'Sullivan, Deane, Corcoran) already have winners medals from 1999.

If last year's campaign was defined by Kilkenny's quest for three in a row, and Cork's rise as the new power in halting them, this year was all about confirmation of that status for the Rebels, and the fact that they did it while never needing to produce a performance as good as in last year's semi-final and final endorses their eminence.

That said last Sunday's victory was impressive because of the complete control of it. Cork showed their experience by grasping the big occasion by the scruff of the neck, in the knowledge that their young Galwegian opponents should not be allowed the opportunity to settle into the game. Galway's feisty refusal to be cowed and their doggedness in keeping in touch almost all the way speaks volumes for their potential and suggests that, as manager Conor Hayes believes, there is indeed an All-Ireland in this team.

In full flow (and I know we haven't seen it too often this season) this Cork side are such a joy to behold. The athleticism of O hAilpin, the rousing power of O Sullivan (his clearance that led to the goal was the type of intervention that gets men into history books), the mesmerising running of the O'Connors. They tore into the flesh of the match hungrily, and Brian Corcoran's imperiousness in the first half especially spoke volumes of a team who looked, throughout, completely comfortable with their destiny.

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