The start of the 2015 season has brought an end to the dual debate down south. However, is achieving both All-Irelands a reality for the Rebel County in the near future?
While the glorious year of 1990 for Cork GAA will not fade in the minds of the rebel faithful for a long time, there is a growing sense that it may be a long time yet before both Sam and Liam are brought back to the Lee again.
Cork’s last All-Ireland victory came in 2010, with the footballer’s achieving success against Down in a long over-due victory.
However, a barren period has hung over the hurlers. Nine seasons have passed since Cork last climbed the steps of the Hogan Stand to lift the Liam McCarthy Cup.
From a traditional hurling stronghold, no All-Ireland victory in nine seasons and a mere two final appearances in that period, 2006 and more recently 2013, is deemed a significant failure.
The beginning of 2014 saw huge positivity generated in Cork. Aidan Walsh, Eoin Cadogan and Damien Cahalane all committed to playing both codes, and many saw it as the year that the dual debate would be solved and maybe dual glory would beckon on the horizon.
The debate was solved, but the outcome was a far cry from the one the Cork public had hoped for. Being an inter-county dual star was something that was deemed impossible.
All three players had seen their performance levels suffer while trying to juggle the task of committing to both teams, and in the end, it was Walsh who made the call first.
Speaking to the Irish Independant on his experiences in 2014, Walsh said,
“It’s something I can look back on and say I did it, but I don’t think I have any intention of doing again it for the coming year, or for the rest of my career”
Both Walsh and Cahalane commited to Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s side for 2015 and with that, the dream of the double was cast aside. One team’s gain was another team’s loss.
Walsh had played such a significant role with the footballer’s in recent times, acting as a leader, a score- getter and a primary ball-winner.
Without the domineering presence of the Kanturk man around the middle-third, it is hard to see Cork claiming honours against the likes of Dublin and Kerry, who not only possess a vast array of primary ball-winners but also significant strength and depth, which at the moment Cork footballers do not seem to have.
In the case of the small-ball, an All-Ireland for the Rebel County is a real possibility. The hurling championship nowadays is extremely open and any of seven or eight counties can claim honours.
With the dual players solely focusing on hurling and the likes of Patrick Horgan and Daniel Kearney coming into their prime, barring a complete no-show like that which happened last August against Tipperary, Cork should claim honours in the near future.
As regards to a dual All-Ireland success, Cork may just have to wait a little longer.
Seán Ó Murchú, Pundit Arena