Horgan ‘owed an All-Ireland’, says Cork boss Meyler

In-form ‘Hoggy’ among hurling’s most prolific scorers never to win Celtic Cross

 

The best forward in hurling history without an All-Ireland? John Meyler is telling the tale of Cork’s two championships matches to date when that question of Patrick Horgan arises, and whether any player of his class has gone this far into their career without winning the ultimate prize.

“Well, he’s certainly owed an All-Ireland medal, and he certainly deserves one,” Meyler says of Horgan, affectionately known as Hoggy, who scored 1-23 in Cork’s opening two games, the loss to Tipperary and Sunday’s win over Limerick, as consistent as ever across both. 

“If anyone deserves one, Hoggy does. There are fantastic, brilliant hurlers without All-Ireland medals, but we have to work an awful lot harder in the upcoming games to deliver that to him. 

“I’ve said before that Horgan has been the best forward over the last 10 years with Joe Canning and TJ Reid. Absolutely no doubt about that. TJ Reid has the All-Ireland medals, Joe has one. Hoggy doesn’t have any one but Hoggy is in the top three forwards over the last 10 years and there’s no debate, no issue over that. He has been fantastic. 

‘Consummate professional’

“He has led Cork on his own, from play, from frees, from everything, and he’s the first at training, he’s the first out on the pitch, he’s a consummate professional athlete and he deserves great credit and great praise. He’s just short an All-Ireland medal and that’s it.” 

Horgan’s scoring statistics are just one measure of his consistency for Cork since making his senior debut in 2008: now 31, he’s made 122 appearances in all, 53 in the championship, scoring a total of 31 goals and 830 points; of that, 15 goals and 364 points came in the championship, only Meyler, in his second year as Cork manager, says Horgan’s impact on Cork’s game stretches far beyond the scoreboard. 

“If you stand back and look at Patrick Horgan and see what he does in games, he is incredible. He is a superb hurler, frees, play, skill, attention to detail, the way he carries himself, the way he carries himself on and off the pitch is superb. It’s just that Hoggy needs an All-Ireland medal to convince people, but if you’ve to be convinced about Horgan, then… 

“I think he’s just an artist, skilful, what he does with a ball. I’ve never worked with TJ or Joe but you look at those, they make it look so simple that you say, ‘That’s easy’ but go do it. He scored a point there against Tipperary from a phone box. The way he took the ball down for the goal last Sunday against Limerick, lost two players, just turned, in, goal. 

‘Such an artist’

“Looks easy, looks simple. Why? Because he’s such an artist. You look at Messi, you look at his ability. Sure anybody can go past one or two players, that’s not a problem but to do it at the speed that he does with the control that he does, superb.” 

Speaking at Centra’s launch of the 2019 hurling championship, Meyler insists Cork’s improved performance on Sunday had nothing to do with “outside voices”, but came from entirely within. 

“I was 100 percent confident because you know you could see that within the week, the way we addressed that after the Tipperary match and we looked at that Everybody focused on it and everybody needed to pick up their performance. Certainly to have Bill Cooper back, he was a massive loss against Tipperary. 

“We all needed to look within ourselves and to see what could I have done, our attitude ended to change but above all our work rate and performance needed to be improved and It think everyone saw that and we let ourselves down badly. What’s key is delivering the same performance and better against Waterford.”

Doug Howlett

On that note, Meyler says former New Zealand rugby star Doug Howlett, Cork’s high performance lead, would remain until the end of the championship, despite announcing plans to leave Munster rugby and return to his native New Zealand.

Cork’s two games, against Tipp and Limerick, also adds further proof to the ever-increasing pace of the modern hurling, and Meyler suggests it may be time to consider two referees. 

“It’s my third year involved, one year as selector and two years as manager the game of hurling in the last three years and even found it this year, it has speeded up again. It is just getting quicker and quicker and faster and faster. Trying to get from one end of the field to the other is difficult, it is challenging. 

“That’s up for the authorities and the GAA to see what is the best way forward. The NFL have seven referees and they still miss stuff, the rugby union have the TMOs. I think we’re in an era of probably the most exciting, fluid hurling where skill is huge at the moment.”

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