Well in a sense yes. Though the Cork display wasn't dredged from the mists of time as much as some might believe. The Rebels never got the credit they deserved for 50 minutes or so of terrific hurling in the All-Ireland semi final of 2008. That nine point defeat looked, in isolation, a black stain on Cork's hurling character. But a few weeks later Kilkenny, surprisingly until then under-rated, finally got the credit they deserved as a team for all the ages. If Cork had repeated their '08 semi performance with reasonable consistency last year they too would have been within a heartbeat of threatening Kilkenny's title. So, with the hurling world unsure as to the cats form this year, it's only fair to say Cork are currently contenders. That they weren't regarded as such by many, including this quarter, last week, was down to lazy analytical thinking. Your correspondent felt that Cork would need to be the side they were from 1-9 five years ago to return to the winners enclosure. Well, on Sunday they were, and if anything there is scope for improvement, when Tom Kenny is fully fit. It may be inevitable, but too often matters other than Donal og Cusack's goalkeeping prowess features in discussion about the Cloyne net minder. His pin-point puck outs, especially in the first half, were a crucial factor, although Tipp's laxness in this regard was mighty careless.It was interesting that Cusack's determination, nay taciturn nature, also extended to the post-match interview. As an aside, one feature of Sunday that pleased some of us not necessarily always well disposed to Cork victories, was that it showed that there can be a reward for serious players who stick to their guns in the face of conservative county board intransigence. Sean og O' Halpin and Brian Murphy ( without the same media fanfare ) also overcome the collywobbles that beset the left side of the Cork defence in the league final.
Cusack's puck outs were crucial especially in a first half where Tipp had as many shots at goal as the rebels. This was highlighted in the excellent detailed analysis by Moltoir on anfearrua.com. He also related how the perennial ball-winning issues in the Cork half-forward are not yet solved, although Michael Cussen could aid in that regard. Patrick Horgan has also yet to prove that he will win a decent percentage of ball in the summer, although he sniped mightily. Regarding Aisake, this quarter hasn't anything that original to add about his quasi-match winning display, save that the former Cork selector Joe O'Leary who compared to Ray Cummins might hold his whist a while yet, even if his comments could be read slightly out of context.But this blogger doesn't doubt that the gangly full forward wont be, at the very least, a nuisance for the rest of the summer to come. He also commends Kieran Murphy's work-rate, without thinking, as Cyril Farrell does, that this facet of his game has been under valued until now.
As for Tipp, apart from the existential issues discussed elsewhere. Well, all of a sudden whither the 3 and 6 jerseys. For a man who commanded the square in an imperious u-21 campaign in 2008, Padraig Maher has as a senior full back looked like a talented defender out of position. Even in last year's lauded All-Ireland showing there was a looseness that offered opponents a chance. Conor O' Mahoney's subbing was curious, if for no other reason than Cork didn't make much headway through him. But there must be an increasing worry that, like a brittle race horse, it's difficult to get the Newport man fully wound up. Up front gold seems to have turned to a less valuable type of dust very quickly. It could be that Eoin Kelly's on- off physical decline is again an issue. That the Mr. Hyde side of Lar Corbett's personality has returned. And that Noel McGrath could be having what the Americans term 'the sophomore slump'. Of course it could also be that they could shoot the lights out again in Croke Park in the autumn. If the internal bastards don't grind them down!