Dónal Óg Cusack has pointed out just how hard it is to retain the Liam MacCarthy – highlighting the task facing Tipperary in 2020.
Tipp swept to All-Ireland glory with a 14-point hammering of Kilkenny last weekend and they look well placed to go close again next year given the experience and age-profile of Liam Sheedy's team.
However, speaking on the latest episode of the RTÉ GAA Podcast, the former Cork goalkeeper said just how hard it is to win back-to-back titles.
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"It’s part and parcel of the week after an All-Ireland final; you hear talk of domination, for the victors everything is rosy and for the losers there are many, many questions posed. That’s just par for the course," said Cusack.
"In reality, retaining the All-Ireland hurling championship is very difficult and maybe because Kilkenny have been so successful we have lost sight of that fact.
"Only five counties have managed to retain an All-Ireland title and outside of the big three (Kilkenny, Tipp and Cork), Wexford and Galway are the other two and they’ve only done it once. In fact, the big three have failed to do it more often than they have been successful at it.
"Even if you look to 12 months ago all of the talk was about Limerick, and rightly so, about how fantastic they were, how young they were for the future. Move on 12 months and it’s proven again how difficult it is.
"There are very fine margins – just look at that last minute sideline ball in the Limerick-Kilkenny semi-final this season. So all of the talk is about Tipperary, positive talk and rightly so, but there are no guarantees."
Cusack won his first All-Ireland with Cork in 1999 and then went back-to-back in 2004 and '05.
"Looking back, and it’s always easier looking back because the best strategies are always written looking backwards, I would say in ’99 I remember huge, huge celebrations," he said.
"It was a young team, Cork hadn’t won the All-Ireland in nine years. The excitement that’s there right throughout the winter; you want to show respect and involve everyone in that community, be that schools, hospitals, families, all the different clubs.
"Rightly so because it’s such a big thing in players’ and communities’ lives that the cup goes on a serious tour.
"When we won in 2004 we had lost the final in 2003 so we were, if you like, battle hardened and scarred by that experience and that stood us in good stead in terms of wanting to retain the title in 2005. You’ve very fine margins.
"We played in four All-Ireland finals in-a-row, losing at either end and winning the two in between. I would say that there was more maturity about us when we retained the All-Ireland title."