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Deccie Dalton, who scored a last second goal from the penalty spot, celebrates. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Deccie Dalton, who scored a last second goal from the penalty spot, celebrates. Picture: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
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New Cork hurling heroes are emerging by the week

IT'S too early to suggest the old order is restored.

The Rebels haven't claimed any All-Irelands yet and while we were reared on a diet of Munster triumphs in Thurles, dining from the top table in September is what we expect too. There are serious tests on the horizon in August, and the last All-Ireland semi-final in 2014 against Tipp is enough to ensure the county doesn't get carried away.

By the same token, there is some buzz around hurling right now. The swagger, however premature, is back, and you can sense that even going to club games.

Attending the Na Piarsaigh-Blarney and Ballincollig-Carrigaline minor hurling games this week the positivity was palpable. Some of the county's minor stars featured, but Blake Murphy (Piarsaigh), Seán Walsh (Ballincollig) and Brian Kelleher (Carrigaline) cut loose as well. It showed how many wristy hurlers are on Leeside and exactly why we should never have to endure another era of serial disappointment.

On the bigger stage, Deccie Dalton's last-gasp penalty in the Munster U21 semi-final away to Waterford was just the latest magic moment in a season which has been filled with enough of them to distract Harry Potter.

Winning as John Meyler's side did against the Déise was even sweeter than blitzing them. It was utterly cruel on the hosts, especially Patrick Curran and Colm Roche who hurled up a storm, but it was the drama of sport at it finest. At least from the Rebel perspective!

Cork have now gone 11 games in the Munster championship from U17 to senior without a loss, with three of the four trophies secured. The U17 win in Dungarvan on an unseasonably cold April night was low-key but set the scene for a summer which has already exceeded our expectations.

The minor clashes with Tipp were spectacular, followed up by a magnificently dominant final against Clare, while the three senior victories were all hugely satisfying, and real occasions as well.

New heroes have emerged. Daire Connery, Brian Turnbull, Darragh Fitzgibbon, Mark Coleman... and this week it was Deccie Dalton.

Going over the previous 10 Cork-Waterford U21 meetings, Joe Deane was the highest individual scorer, with 3-4 in 1998. Dalton topped that with his 1-12.

Of course Deano was heading for his third underage All-Ireland in four years at that stage, minor in '95, U21 in '97-98, plus the Munster U21 crown in 1996, while Dalton has yet to collect his first medal.course Deano was heading for his third underage All-Ireland in four years at that stage, minor in '95, U21 in '97-98, plus the Munster U21 crown in 1996, while Dalton has yet to collect his first medal.

Hopefully that will change on Wednesday week at the Gaelic Grounds, but Cork are most certainly underdogs. The Rebels are on the rise but home advantage has served Limerick well in whipping Tipp and Clare already, with Aaron Gillane shooting the lights out.

Their seniors had a poor summer but Sean Finn, Peter Casey and Kyle Hayes were among the star performers, while everyone knows the threat posed by Cian Lynch, Tom Morrissey, Barry Nash and Ronan Lynch. Limerick have been a force at minor throughout this decade and they were U21 All-Ireland champions in 2015.

The likely absence of Luke Meade, with a broken finger, and Darragh Fitzgibbon, through suspension, is significant. You'd expect the management will rejig the team anyway because the forward line were flat at Walsh Park.

Shane Kingston was at the edge of the square in the first half and didn't get a single ball sent his way. He was quiet enough in the Munster final in Thurles so the hope was he'd take this game by the scruff of the neck.

Yet there were no grounds to question his withdrawal, particularly as his replacement Jack O'Connor immediately made a great run to take a pass. The Sars attacker went from bit-part to starring role when he burst through at the end and was fouled for the penalty.

Kingston will surely be eager to atone on July 26 and deploying him at wing-forward would help. If Dalton and Kingston can motor early, and Newtown's Tim O'Mahony starts and uses his height to offer an outlet under the high ball, Cork might have a chance.

Billy Hennessy had a great game on Thursday. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton
Billy Hennessy had a great game on Thursday. Picture: INPHO/Ken Sutton