Patrick Horgan will be a key figure for Cork against Tipperary next Sunday. Oisin Keniry/INPHO
pointing the way

'I can never understand how Patrick Horgan is not put in the top three, it does my head in'

Diarmuid O’Sullivan on the Cork attacker’s pursuit of an All-Ireland medal.

DIARMUID O’SULLIVAN HAS filled the roles of team-mate and selector during the progression of Patrick Horgan’s Cork hurling career.

These days he is an observer of the attacker and the regard he holds the Glen Rovers man in has not been diluted.

Next Sunday Horgan will begin his 12th championship season in the Cork senior ranks, still in pursuit of his first All-Ireland senior hurling medal.

O’Sullivan was still soldiering in defence when Horgan made his debut for Cork in 2008, was a selector in 2017 when he moved clear of Christy Ring as the county’s all-time top scorer in championship and watched his form last summer that culminated in him being the recipient of a third All-Star award at the close of the season.

The former Cork defender acknowledges there is ‘no room for sentiment’ in the chase of the Liam MacCarthy Cup as Horgan seeks to rid himself of the unwanted tag of being one of the best current performers not to land the game’s ultimate honour.

But he does feel the forward deserves greater national recognition.

Paddy Power GAA Ambassador and columnist Diarmuid O'Sullivan Diarmuid O'Sullivan is a Paddy Power GAA ambassador and columnist.

“You see guys talking about TJ Reid and Joe Canning and Aaron Gillane the last few years as the top three players. I can never understand how Patrick Horgan is not put in the top three, it does my head in.

“He is continuously top of the scoring charts for Cork in the championship, year in and year out. He’s there, what, ten years at this stage. He is constantly performing at the top level and I just can’t understand it. Sometimes he doesn’t make the conversation on the top five hurlers.

“Maybe that’s bias because I know what he is like on and off the field and as a lad. As a hurler he is gifted. His performance there for Glen Rovers against Midleton a couple of weeks ago just underlines his qualities.

“Now, Cork are reliant on him so hopefully he will have a big summer. Hoggy is exceptional. We know what he can do. He is a genuine lad but there is no room for sentiment. There was no room for sentiment for Ken McGrath or Tony Browne or any of these lads who have gone before and not won an All-Ireland.

“Ciaran Whelan as a Dublin footballer the same. Ciaran McDonald as a Mayo footballer. There isn’t too much sentiment for guys like that. You are either lucky enough or not. Guys outside (Cork) aren’t going to worry if Patrick Horgan has never won an All-Ireland.

“It might be something that might plague him if it didn’t happen.”

O’Sullivan recalled how Horgan did not react well when he was taken out of the starting Cork side for a spell a couple of seasons ago, due to his desire to be constantly involved.

“What fellas forget is that Patrick was hurling for the Glen late into the year every year. Glen Rovers have been very successful and he’d gone through five or six seasons without a break so he was going from inter-county back into his club right up nearly to December.

“He was going from that right back into county training in December. There was no end to it, no break. He had become stale. No matter what sport you play, if you keep playing you will become stale so we took him out for a break that time and he didn’t react well to it.

“I would be friendly with Patrick as much as anything else and it upset him. You tried to explain to him that it was for his own benefit, that it wasn’t that he was being dropped. He was being taken out to give him a chance to recover and get the hunger back.

“He has pushed on but he couldn’t understand. He wants to play every minute of every game, he wants to train every day and he wants the hurley in his hand every day. That’s the way he has been since ten years of age.

“If you hear the stories about him up in the Glen from when he was young, that’s just the way he is. So he just needed taking out of it for a bit to freshen himself up and he has benefited from it. Trying to make him see that was the hardest part of it.”

Patrick Horgan and Gearoid O’Connell Patrick Horgan in action for Glen Rovers in the 2016 Munster senior club final against Clare's Ballyea. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Horgan is part of an experienced Cork crew that are still seeking their breakthrough All-Ireland victory and O’Sullivan feels ‘it would be a travesty’ if they did not manage to achieve that.

“As Cork people, we have won an All-Ireland in every decade. It would be a shame if that goes. This is a massive year of all years. It’s the last year in the decade so we want to protect our history and what’s gone before us by wining one this year.

“Time is running out, rapidly. Hoggy, Lehane, Joycey, Harnedy, Nasher, there’s not too many more opportunities are going to come their way if it doesn’t come right over the next four to five months.

“But, as a Cork man, it would be a travesty if a couple of them didn’t win one so they really need to push on now.”

O’Sullivan also feels Cork cannot dwell on the regrets from last July’s All-Ireland semi-final loss to Limerick, a winning advantage slipping away from them in normal time before they lost out to the eventual champions in extra-time.

“As a player there would be a bit of anger and disappointment on how the game was lost but we learn as we get older in our careers that what’s gone is gone.

“You can’t dwell on what’s gone. That game is gone. Put it to bed, it’s in the history books. Limerick won an All-Ireland on the back of it.

“You just have to deal with it, knowing that you have another opportunity starting on Sunday to get back on the road and put it right. You should focus more on putting it right this year than leaving last year’s behind you.”

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