Christy Ring was once quoted as saying that Cork teams were like mushrooms – they came up overnight. He was probably referring particularly to the 1966 team that ended a ten-year drought in Munster, win the All-Ireland and added the Under-21 titles for good measure. And we saw a classic example of it in 1999 when Jimmy Barry Murphy reached into his juju bag and pulled out a team of All-Ireland winners where seemingly none existed before.
All good stuff from a Cork perspective, but Ring’s observation was not necessarily meant as a compliment. With Cork’s vast resources in comparison to other counties it’s inevitable that a successful combination will emerge even without trying. There’s no way they could be so blasé in Kilkenny where players must be nurtured from a very young age if they are going to have a competitive compliment by the time they reach McCarthy Cup age.
And so on Sunday we will see Cork throwing everything against a wall and seeing what sticks, and hoping that’s good enough to overcome the ruthless Darwinism of Brian Cody’s Kilkenny. Will it be enough? Probably not. But the hope is there, which it certainly wouldn’t be if it were Waterford that were playing the Cats. Cork could produce something extraordinary which is why the usual logic, that it doesn’t matter when you play Kilkenny because you’re going to have to beat them to win the All-Ireland, that logic doesn’t apply.
Of course should Cork win, the pressure is going to be ratcheted up several notches for our match as both Tipperary and ourselves would be confident we’d have the measure of Cork. Bring it on *retches*