Cork's Victory Over Limerick Escapism At Its Finest
28th Feb 2022
In one of the darkest news weeks in quite a while, the escape to cheering on Cork’s hurlers last Sunday was a welcome respite. Monday’s relaxing of pandemic restrictions should have been on everyone’s lips this week, but instead the plight of poor Ukraine dominated headlines, social media and our forum too.
All week the thread “Russian build up on the border” was by far the most read discussion on our site, racking up well over 10,000 page views per day as Corkonians sought out the opinion of other Corkonians on the dreadful actions of Vladimir Putin’s invasion (you can consume all the international media you want, but you still want to know what other Corkonians like you think).
Thankfully, come Sunday afternoon the ‘Cork Hurlers’ thread replaced the misery in Ukraine as the most dominant discussion on the website. The beautiful game might seem trivial in the face of what’s going on in the world, but Cork’s love of hurling and the victory over the All-Ireland champions delivers escapism at it's best.
What better relief from the deadly seriousness of reports from Kiev, Brussels and Moscow than the simple pleasure of seeing Born-Again Hurler, Conor Lehane, the victorious Midleton captain, carve up Limerick’s defence.
Back in 2013 he was the young buck who burst on to the scene under Jimmy Barry Murphy. Nine years later, the agility and skill are all still there – and despite the miles on the clock he looks like he’s even faster on his feet too.
When Cork had already clocked up a goal and ten points, Collins struck a long puckout down the field. Lehane leaped higher than a Straight Road salmon and won it impressively in the air. Then, somehow, managed to swivel and slip through Limerick’s notoriously tight defence and scored a short-grip beauty off the hurley.
That’s the kind of stuff that brings Cork fans to their feet. So many supporters find short puck outs, slow build-ups, and the possession game in general, difficult to watch at times. It’s great if it works, but if a defender coming out with the ball gets caught by a high press or delivers a dodgy pass (like Niall O’Leary’s second half brain fart) you’ll hear far more than just groans around the stadium.
There’ll be fellas holding their heads in their hands, and others invoking the names of a range of religious icons or roaring the names of saints you never heard of followed by “…for the love of God, just drive it in long willyeee!!”.
But, the days of the simple game are long gone and most fans, even the ones foaming at the mouth when their teams hit short puck outs, know that the top teams need to be able to mix it up to keep the opposition guessing.
At this time of year, there is so much joy to be had from watching young players come of age and Kieran Kingston hasn’t been slow in giving the cream of the All-Ireland winning under-20s a chance to prove themselves at the highest level.
This season’s super spring lamb that has fans, certainly on our forum, in a tizzy is without doubt Ciaran Joyce.
His proven defensive skills, allowed his centre field partner Darragh Fitzgibbon to surge forward and attack Limerick earning him the TG4 ‘Laoch na hImeartha’ (which literally means, ‘hero of the players’ in English. Incidentally, isn’t it daycint the way there’s no gender debate about using ‘man of the match’ or ‘player of the match’ in Irish like the way there is in English? The old Irish phrase comes with gender neutrality already built in!).
Rebel supporters love nothing more than seeing a fast and furious hurler like Fitzgibbon in full flight, pursued by a trail of wheezing defenders, waggling their half-hooking hurleys in dire desperation as he leaves them in his wake.
The Fitzgibbon Effect on defences is demoralising, but for Cork fans it’s a thrill we can’t get enough of!
Of course, few fans are getting carried away with Cork’s resounding victory. We know Limerick were trying new a bunch of new players and, despite their scintillating performance in the 2021 championship, they were slow starters in last year’s league too.
However, the feelgood buzz from the last three matches will undoubtedly boost the size of the home crowd at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday evening.
This will be Henry Shefflin’s first visit to Cork as Galway bainisteoir and, with only two league games on Leeside this year and last year’s league defeat to avenge, the atmosphere is bound to be massive if the Rebels can match their recent form.
With all the darkness going on out there in Not Cork, why not treat yourself to a little light?
Cork v Galway at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, this Saturday at 7pm
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