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Cork break the cycle of Semple Stadium hurling defeats, now the task is to repeat it

The Thurles venue had been an unhappy hunting ground.

Anthony Nash celebrates a Cork score on Sunday.
Anthony Nash celebrates a Cork score on Sunday.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

AS THE CORK team bus approached Semple Stadium on Sunday, the sight of fans on the streets was uplifting.

Anthony Nash had endured enough tough days at the Thurles venue over the past two seasons. That pre-match boost helped them reverse that trend against Tipperary.

“We came down there around the corner on the bus and you see thousands of Cork people,” remarked the Kanturk man.

“It was a great buzz. You do feed into it. You could sense they had belief in us.

“We had belief in ourselves, we always had. It was a good day.”

Cork grasped Munster silverware most recently in Páirc Uí Chaoimh in 2014 yet that summer had been dominated by trips to Thurles, picking up wins over Waterford (at the second attempt) and Clare.

That intervening time frame has seen Semple Stadium prove an unhappy hunting ground.

Two losses in major games to Waterford in 2015 and a quarter-final pasting by Galway that July. The qualifier win over Clare was the solitary source of success.

Then in 2016 Cork were overturned twice by Tipperary before Wexford ended a 60-year championship losing streak last July.

2015 – Semple Stadium

  • Waterford 1-24 Cork 0-17
  • Waterford 3-19 Cork 1-21
  • Cork 0-20 Clare 0-17
  • Galway 2-28 Cork 0-22

2016 – Semple Stadium

  • Tipperary 2-27 Cork 2-15
  • Tipperary 0-22 Cork 0-13
  • Wexford 0-23 Cork 1-17

Breaking that cycle of losses was significant for this Cork team but Nash insisted their belief never wavered that they could reach those heights.

“We had belief 100% inside the camp. I can’t speak for people outside of it. Even last year training was going well, we just never really kicked on with a performance.

“Every day you you went out last year, you thought you had a chance as well. Look it turned out that we had a bad year.

“This year the league went very well, the performances were there. The whole panel did themselves proud.”

Nash was one of only six players the side that started the 2013 All-Ireland final replay against Clare, to be on the field at throw-in on Sunday.

He couldn’t but savour this success after Cork belied their outsiders tag against the reigning champions.

Yet it was tempered by an awareness that they must build on it as Waterford loom on 18 June.

Stephen McDonnell celebrates with supporters Stephen McDonnell celebrates with Cork supporters after the match. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Defeat at the next stage will throw Cork back into the qualifier mix, a victory guarantees at the minimum a place at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage.

“Look it’s a great feeling, (I’m) not going to say otherwise, it’s a great victory. Emotions are running high, you’re after beating the All-Ireland champions coming down to Thurles.

“The one thing is, it’s one performance. We’re going out to Waterford in a couple of weeks who are going to be ready to go.

“They’re one of the best teams in the country in the last three, four years.

“We have to go again and that’s going to be the word coming out of us. We’ll keep the heads level.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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