Thursday 18 April 2019

Gruff guide to ... Kilkenny v Cork

WHAT IS IT?: An All-Ireland hurling semi-final, the clash of the titans, a recent rousing rivalry revived, a battle of the aristocrats.

EH?: Ah, come on dummy! We've been pucking you with hurling facts and knowledge week on week and you can't even get the most titanic battle of the year into your thick skull?! Must be all the clouts you got last Wednesday when we sent you down to have a look at the Munster under-21 final. Maybe we should get you a helmet.....

GO ON, REMIND ME: Kilkenny, all dominant, all powerful, All-Ireland champions against Cork - the Lazarus of this year's championship; the team with more to prove than any other and only dyin' to halt Kilkenny's quest for yet another Liam McCarthy Cup

WHY?: We'll spare you the gory details of this year's strike and the outpouring of emotion which beset the entire hurling fraternity but suffice to day, you could write a book about it (maybe one of the them will actually one day).

Anyways, there's huge

significance to the Kilkenny/Cork rivalry every year and some great oul' contests - but this time around........it's historical.

HOW SO?: Well, they've been taking shkelps and All-Irelands off each other to beat the Artane boys band down the years and here we are at another possible milestone. Kilkenny have 30 All-Ireland titles, Cork have 29. It grates down by the Lee that they're second to the Noreside stickfighters. Their last back-to-back of Liam MacCarthys in 2004/2005 put them one in front and on top of the hurling world, going for the BIG ONE. Three in-a-row.

AND?: And...who stepped out of the lurch in '06 only Kilkenny, drawing level in the overall honours list and then putting two together to take them one clear and on the verge of the first three-peat in their history. Kilkenny have actually gone for the three-cup-trick on no less than five occasions and failed every time. Last time was in 2004 when they lost in the final....to Cork.

ANY FAMOUS FACES?: That's the other thing that sets this rivalry apart. They're awful parochial down in Langerland about their heroes. None more so than Christy Ring - a man so legendary, he spawned more tales of heroic gaeldom than Cú Chulann and Setanta (no, not that one) combined. Anyway, he was considered untouchable as the games greatest ever exponent.

SO?: So along came a sprightly little genius from Kilkenny called DJ Carey and some people happened to have the absolute gall and temerity to even compare him to Ring! The result was DJ being widely derided down by the Jack Lynch tunnel.

TWO OF THE GREATS?: Undoubtedly. But - and here's another bone of contention in Cork - when the GAA unveiled it's hurling team of the millenium, there were but three Corkmen in it: Jack Lynch, Christy Ring and Ray Cummins. While Kilkenny had four representatives: Eddie Keher, Jim Langton, Lory Meagher and Paddy Phelan. Carey, widely considered the best ever didn't even make the selection.

MODERN DAY GREATS?: Henry Shefflin (pictured right) has stood head and shoulder above any other hurler in the modern era although they might make a row out of that in Cork for their own dearest Seán óg ó hAlpín. Then again, they've been banging on about 'The Rock' down there for donkey's years and he looks like a man on his last intercounty legs.

ANYTHING ELSE?: Yes. So minuscule is the interest in Cork football (who, by the way are the reigning

Munster champions - unlike their stick-wielding counterparts) they've had to tag along on the undercard for Gerald McCarthy's All-Ireland semi-final on Sunday in Croker just to try and whip up a bit of a crowd.

A day for Rebel Pride. 'The Banks' will get a rousing rendition from proud Corkonians. When the state capital is invaded by the real capital. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah....

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