Tomorrow evening, the new series of Laochra Gael kicks off on TG4, with the first episode focusing on former Cork goalkeeper Donal Óg Cusack.
In the episode, Cusack sheds some light on Cork's strike to remove Gerald McCarthy as manager in 2009, revealing how his only regret from the incident is not applying further pressure on the Cork county board when he and his fellow players had the chance.
Along with Diarmuid O'Sullivan, Eoin Kelly and Eddie Brennan, Cusack's former All-Ireland winning manager Donal O'Grady also features in the first airing of Laochra Gael's new run, and Cusack talks viewers through the latter's speech prior to Cork's victorious All-Ireland final with Kilkenny in 2004. Bizarrely, it largely revolved around the War of Independence.
Cusack tells TG4:
I always remember the speech that Donal gave us before the game. It might surprise you: he highlighted or contrasted the difference in terms of the contribution that Cork had given during the War of Independence compared to Kilkenny’s.
"We were proud of who we were, we were proud of how we did our business, we were proud of our heritage and it definitely sparked something off inside all of us.
Speaking to John Fogarty in the Irish Examiner today, former Kilkenny hurler and current Fianna Fáíl councillor Peter Cleere expressed his disbelief that O'Grady had gone to such lengths to rouse his side.
Cleere claimed O'Grady's speech was a testament to the 'bubble' Cork were in back in 2004.
You always look for that spark but to question the integrity of Kilkenny people and as a county? It’s crazy stuff, really, that you would compare a hurling match to the commitment given to the War of Independence.
It just goes to show the bubble Cork were in at that time. That game was so important to them that they would liken it to the War of Independence.
It’s crazy to think that he would question generations of Kilkenny people all for an All-Ireland final. That’s off-the-wall stuff.
...I’ve no doubt that he actually believed it at the time, but it’s a bit disingenuous to say Cork people did more for the War of Independence than Kilkenny people.
Of course, many would suggest the Cork mindset remains similar to this day; the difference is that they can no longer translate it to on-field success.
Peter Cleere's full interview with John Fogarty on that 2004 All-Ireland final, and why it was especially important to Kilkenny that they beat Cork in 2006, is available in the Irish Examiner.