PERHAPS the 80-minute wait to face Limerick in the final of the 2018 Fenway Hurling Classic on Sunday was what ultimately decided the destination of the Players’ Champions Cup in Boston on Sunday?
It took Cork 10 minutes to register their first score and at that stage, the Rebels had accumulated a 21-point deficit to the All-Ireland champions, who had disposed of Wexford in the earlier second semi-final, having trailed for much of that contest but ended strongly.
Cork were first on the pitch having edged Clare in the first semi-final yet the Treaty County used their momentum to build up an unassailable lead against the Rebels.
“Yeah I think the same thing happened last year if, you go back, Limerick got a 21 point start on us, something like that, they got a fast start on us and that really killed us, they were coming through the middle and Cian Lynch was controlling midfield,” said Cork manager John Meyler.
Those thoughts were echoed by forward Conor Lehane. “We were really sluggish coming out, I know there was a gap in between games but we weren’t self-aware enough, it kind of caught us, in the end, we weren’t that far behind, probably two goals would have done us.”
Yet it was the experience and building towards the 2019 Munster Championship which superseded any result in Eastern America.
“It’s the start of the year and to get ready for the start 2019 and the Munster Championship, it’s going to be really competitive next year so it’s all aimed at that really.
“The timing is just about right just to finish up the season really and then to kick-start the new season because we go back on December 1 officially, it’s a way of gelling the gang together, it’s a bit of fun and that you know and it’s a bit of a holiday.”
Meyler has no qualms either about the new championship structure either.
“It’s just incredible, four games for supporters and it puts a lot of pressure on players and managers, you know it was a really good format last year and it’s really competitive, Tipperary and Waterford have two new managers and Limerick are All-Ireland Champions and Clare are semi-finalist and ourselves,” he said.
Meyler also believes the new format makes the emphasis on the league even more important now.
“You really need to find strength in depth that’s what Limerick showed last year, that was the one key thing like, when they brought on Shane Dowling and those lads at the end like it really made the difference so the league will be far more important again this year to try and find one or two new players.”
This article first appeared in the Evening Echo on October 22, 2018. To see the original version, click here.