Seán Óg Ó hAilpín believes that Cork have slipped into the “second tier” of hurling counties, and yesterday warned that it may take five or six years before the county are capable of challenging the big guns again.
The former player, who is no longer a member of Denis Walsh’s panel has accepted that the next few years are going to be about rebuilding rather than winning trophies:
“If you look at last year’s championship, and especially Cork’s exit, you would have to say that Cork are in the second tier. I couldn’t see Cork competing against the likes of Kilkenny and Tipperary the way they played in the All-Ireland and that’s being honest.
“Cork are going through a rebuilding phase. There are new faces being looked at, which probably was going to come anyway and needed to come. A lot of the players that were mainstays from 2000 or whatever, you are talking about 10 years.”
Cork play Kilkenny in Nowlan Park in the national league this Sunday. It will be the rebels first visit to the ground since being hammred by 27 points on their return from striking in 2009.
Ó hAilpín didn’t play in that game but believes that such a bad experience will not be far from his former colleagues’ minds come throw-in:
“It was live on TG4 and the difference was around 30 points in the end or whatever. I’m sure the Cork team going on Sunday and the guys that were involved that day, they will probably have that in the back of their mind somewhat.
“I think Sunday’s game is a different kind of circumstances to the game two years ago because that was at the end of a bitter strike. This is going to be a straightforward game, there is not going to be any baggage going into the game.”