For one man, Sunday's All-Ireland hurling final represents the best chance yet to add the most important medal of all to his trophy cabinet. And, if Patrick Horgan's comments from February are anything to go by, this might just be the perfect time for Cork to play Limerick.
Patrick Horgan on how Cork can beat Limerick
Hoggie has been an inspirational presence in the Cork lineup for over a decade now. Countless performances have dragged the Rebels back into games that should have been long gone, or seen them over the line in tight games.
Too often, though, he has been on the losing side. This will be only the second All-Ireland final appearance for one of the greatest players of his generation, and he will be desperate to ensure that this one goes his way after the bitter disappointment of 2013's loss to Clare.
Patrick Horgan spoke to us back in February at the launch of Cork's partnership with Sports Direct and the quotes from that interview are fascinating - especially those on how closely matched he thinks Cork and Limerick really are.
I think we’ve shown in the last two or three years that, if you look back over the games – I’m not going to make it up, it’s in black and white – but if you look back over the games we’ve played with Limerick, we probably should have beaten them in an All-Ireland semi-final the year they won it (2018). We were up by six with eight to play and kind of threw it away.
We drew with them down in the Páirc that summer, we beat them in Limerick twice. There was never too much between us and they know that as well. So as a head to head in the last three years, I’d like to know who has the upper hand.
I think we have the ammunition not only to beat Limerick, but to beat a lot of teams – that’s the same attitude as all teams will have about their own team but I think we’ve a really good team.
It's true to say that Cork have been there or thereabouts with Limerick for a few years now. If it weren't for one of the greatest saves in modern hurling history in 2018, it could have been Cork taking on Galway in the final at Croke Park.
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) July 30, 2018
Those kinds of near misses are what they will want to avoid on Sunday, but they have improved their ability to close games out. The late equaliser from Kilkenny in this year's semi-final was a prime example of a moment when the old Cork may have crumbled - but Horgan's quotes from February show that finishing games out, as well as improved consistency, were top of their priority list coming into 2021.
It’s not all about strength - we’ve a lot of pace, a lot of hurlers. At the end of the day, if you go to the gym all year – it won’t guarantee anything. You need to combine everything and get the best out of yourself and I think we can do that.
There are just a couple of things to straighten out and get right on our side, and we’ll be back being competitive with Tipp and the likes. Shooting efficiency is one. Our use of the ball, which is every team’s one I suppose.
In general, how can we just get to a level of performance where we’re competitive all the time. We flash into games. We’ll be electric and then we can fade out for 10 minutes. In those 10 minutes you can lose the game.
Cork certainly feel much closer to Limerick than in previous years, but Patrick Horgan's comments from February hold up. They only need to take a few steps to beat the Treaty County, and they will hope that they do it on the biggest stage of all on Sunday.
Time will tell if it will be the Rebels' year in 2021.