The demands of inter-county hurling are continually increasing as teams seek to obtain that extra 1% which could prove the difference between winning and losing.
The sport is almost unrecognisable to how it was played 20 years ago. Players must commit a considerable amount of time to the sport – training, recovery, preparation, nutrition and strength and conditioning – it’s all crucial just to remain competitive.
This commitment wouldn’t be too far off what a professional athlete must endure.
This dedication and devotion to the sport means that it’s all the more important for players to be able to switch off so that they can take their minds off the game.
While some inter-county stars are obsessed with the sport and often focus all their attention on it even when they’re not required to, Cork’s Patrick Horgan is on the opposite end of the spectrum.
In his own words, he’s not interested “unless it’s something to do with Cork”.
“When I’m away from it (hurling), I’m away and not thinking about hurling when I’m off having my lunch or something like that. Some fellas love watching it but I don’t.”
“Yeah, basically. I’m not interested unless it’s something to do with Cork. Everyone is different but I just find when I’m away from training and hurling, I just want to do something else.”
For example, Cork had a bye-week in the Munster championship last weekend as their provincial rivals went toe-to-toe with one another but the Glen Rovers man, instead of watching on, prefers to take time away from the game when he can by spending time with his family.
“I was at home. I think I was asleep during the day and called to my Mam’s house like I do every day. Yeah, just chilled out up there. You can’t do anything when…we trained on the Saturday so you’re goosed for Sunday, you don’t have much energy to do much, just hanging around.”
However, this week, the focus will be very much on the visit of Waterford to Páirc Uí Chaoimh and the Rebels will know that a win will keep them in contention of qualifying for the All Ireland series.
The narrative around this fixture is that it will be a walk in the park for John Meyler’s side but Horgan is keen to stress that the Déise are capable of causing upsets.
“Yeah, that’s what everyone will say. We talk about that a lot, what fellas will hear. It doesn’t mean anything to us, it can’t mean anything to us because as soon as you start slipping into that mindset it’s a slippery slope.
“We played Waterford in the same situation last year when they were out and we barely scraped past them. I think we went into the lead in the 69th minute or something like that, someone was saying. So we know how hard it’s going to be and we’ll have to be every bit as good as we were against Limerick to have any chance.”
For Cork, their Munster championship campaign got off to a disappointing start when they lost to Tipperary at home but they produced the perfect response by taking apart All Ireland champions Limerick in their own patch.
In Horgan’s eyes, he takes confidence in how his side were able to turn things around in the space of a week.
“We obviously weren’t happy on the day. Like, we didn’t perform well. We were beaten by seven. We didn’t know that Tipp have turned out to be the form team in the country and they’re flying and all that.
“But on the day it wasn’t good enough for us. We didn’t play anywhere near what we are capable of. Yeah, we obviously had to analyse the game as we do for every game. We didn’t change and we weren’t happy with it. We weren’t happy when we analysed it ourselves and obviously pointed out a few things that needed to be better the following week and we just worked towards getting those three or four things better during that week.
“Thankfully when Limerick came around they were the three or four things that we were on top of and got a great result of.”
PwC GAA/GPA Players of the Month for May, footballer Martin Reilly (Cavan), and hurler, Patrick Horgan (Cork), were at PwC offices in Dublin today to pick up their respective awards.
The players were joined by PwC Managing Partner, Feargal O’Rourke, Uachtarán Chumann Lúthcleas Gael, John Horan, and GPA Chief Executive, Paul Flynn.