Cork have not won a game at Croke Park in six years since beating Dublin by five points in the 2013 All Ireland semi-final.
Last year’s encounter with Limerick at GAA HQ must still haunt some of the Rebel following. Cork led 1-24 to 1-18 in the closing stages only for John Kiely’s men to go on a late rampage. A late Patrick Horgan free salvaged extra-time for Cork but it did nothing to change the result.
Possibly the defining moment of the match came when Nickie Quaid brilliantly intercepted a shot from Cork captain Seamus Harnedy. The St Ita’s club man is taking a fresh approach to their return to GAA HQ, though he admits the side can learn from Limerick’s late revival.
“It’s a new year. We have to take the learnings from last year. I think we performed really, really well for probably 65 minutes last year and just came undone towards the end of it and just shot a few wides. Obviously I’d the goal chance towards the end.
“So there’s some things you have to learn, but I thought we performed really, really well. You just saw what Limerick went on and achieved afterwards and the year they had.
“A lot of these players on our panel haven’t played in Croke Park too much so it’s a great opportunity for them. Every player wants to play in Croke Park so that’s a serious opportunity for us.”
With the arrival of Alan Cadogan back on the scene for Cork this year, there is a renewed sense of confidence surrounding their forward unit.
There is so much power in their attack at the moment that they can afford to leave clinical forwards like Shane Kingston and Conor Lehane on their bench who are ready to pounce on any tiring defence in the closing stages of a game.
The talented forward unit have been racking up impressive scores throughout the competition so far, most notably 1-40 against Joe McDonagh finalists Westmeath at the weekend. Unsurprisingly, Harnedy admits that it is a hugely enjoyable time to be part of the front six.
However, he also maintains that they have a responsibility to defend, a trait that has become the norm in modern-day hurling.
“It’s enjoyable but we have an onus on us to defend as well.
“Getting Cadogan back this year is a huge asset, the likes of Lehane and Hoggy and Shane Kingston, they’re great lads to work with.
“There’s some fantastic other players as well and we’re all pushing each other for jerseys and that’s what it’s all about but it is really enjoyable to be part of. “
Harnedy and Co. are sure to face their toughest challenge this weekend when they take on Kilkenny in the All Ireland quarter-final in Croke Park.
Brian Cody’s side will be hurting following their 1-23 to 0-23 loss to Wexford in the Leinster final and Harnedy is well aware that there is nothing more dangerous than a wounded cat.
“After a defeat, you always expect a reaction out of our team. When we lost to Tipperary, we wanted the next game to come as quick as possible and react against Limerick and then you need to back that up with another performance against Waterford like we did.
“You’re always looking for the next game and probably this game can’t come quick enough for the Kilkenny lads. We obviously know what they possess and they’re a great team, a team that we have serious respect for.
“It’s going to be a tight, tenacious, tough battle and there will be nothing given easy. That’s what we’re expecting and with their calibre of player they can hurt you.”