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McBurney/Declan Bogue

Pictured Declan Bogue

Date: Thursday 12th April 2012

Location: BT Offices

Credit: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Copyright: Liam McBurney/RAZORPIX

Liam McBurney - RAZORPIX


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Once again, Cork will prove the real litmus test for Antrim in intriguing Corrigan Park duel

Declan Bogue


Cork’s Patrick Horgan will be a star attraction in Belfast

Cork’s Patrick Horgan will be a star attraction in Belfast

©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Cork’s Patrick Horgan will be a star attraction in Belfast

This Saturday, Corrigan Park will be awash with spectators engaged in one of their favourite hurling pastimes: assessing exactly where Antrim are at against one of the old money hurling counties.

By virtue of winning the Joe McDonagh Cup, despite a second-half collapse against Kerry, the Saffrons, under the management of Darren Gleeson, get to host Cork in a mouth-watering All-Ireland Hurling Championship preliminary quarter-final.

Not for the first time, we note that trying to explain competition structures to people even within the GAA can be quite a trip.

But in taking the jumble of teams and grading them appropriately, the GAA are not frightened in the least bit to take the bag and give it a bit of a shake to stumble upon a magic formula.

This method guarantees a team a run of competitive games at their own level before then facing a big gun.

Throughout history, Antrim and Cork couldn’t be further apart physically, but have several ties that bind.

In 1943, Antrim made the All-Ireland hurling final.

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It was the very first time an Ulster team was permitted to enter the All-Ireland series and the concept was very much a novel one, Antrim booking their place in the series with a 6-8 to 2-0 win over Down in the Ulster final in Corrigan Park.

On July 4, the same venue hosted the quarter-final with Antrim shocking Galway on the novel scoreline of 7-0 to 6-2.

Incredibly, the GAA allowed Antrim to host the semi-final, with Kilkenny the visitors.

The Saffrons won out 3-3 to 1-6.

Gravity ensued when they met Cork in the final and suffered a 5-16 to 0-4 defeat, the biggest winning margin in the competition.

There has also been a history of Cork coaches making their mark in Antrim.

In 1970, Justin McCarthy was recuperating from a broken leg from a motorcycle accident when he coached them to the 1970 All-Ireland Intermediate title, and returned as coach in 2015 for a short spell under PJ O’Mullan.

Getting to see Cork and Patrick Horgan in the flesh will be well worth the effort for any hurling fans in Ulster. You hope for a competitive game.

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