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"There was a lot of hatred at the time" | Larry Tompkins on Cork v Meath rivalry

Cork football legend Larry Tompkins says they needed to overcome Meath in the 1990 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship final in order to cement the team's legacy. 

The rivals lifted the Sam Maguire twice each between 1987 and 1990 with the Royals coming out on top when the sides met in the 1987 and 1988 deciders.

Cork were three-points victors over Mayo in the 1989 final but Tompkins, who played on in the game despite suffering a knee ligament injury, told OTB AM that the Rebels felt they needed to avenge those back-to-back final defeats to Meath to be considered a great side.

"We had a massive rivalry with Meath over a long period of time. Two giants of football and Meath had come out the right side of us in 1987 and '88 after a replay.

"'88 was a match where we felt we should have won it but we didn't and then in 1990 in a League semi-final on Easter Sunday Meath beat us again. So our complete focus was on trying to beat Meath and we were delighted, believe it or not, to see them in that final because as a team we needed to prove ourselves.

"If we hadn't beaten Meath that day then our previous All-Ireland victory against Mayo would certainly have been diminished.

"You need to beat the best that are out there and Meath were the best team at the time and there would have been questions marks if we'd been unable to beat them. Those question marks would also have hung over us.

"There was a lot of hatred at the time and ferocious battles with Meath, I would have played against them in my Kildare days...I grew up with all of them Meath fellas and I knew how good they were."

20 September 1987; Liam Harnan of Meath in action against Larry Tompkins of Cork during the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final between Meath and Cork at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

"It was just a crowning moment for that Cork team, they really deserved it because they were an outstanding team. At the end of the day both teams got two All-Irelands each, which showed their dominance at the time.

"They were a hell of a team, they had massive players with a full-forward line as good as any that have emerged in football. All throughout the field they were strong, they were physical and by God they could play football.

"When you meet a team so often and the clashes are so intense, there was a lot of tension there and that's what makes the game.

"Both of the teams are very friendly now and that culminated a lot in the passing of John Kearns here when an enormous group of those Meath players came down for the funeral."

Tompkins partially ruptured his ACL and MCL during that final against Meath but played on and went on to kick over two frees in the last 15-minutes.

"It was a totally accidental clash, I bounced up off the ground and tried to get on with it because of the adrenaline and the motivation that we needed to beat Meath.

"I kicked two points from frees afterwards which the lads say were easy frees so I wasn't too bad!

"Going up to receive the cup, I remember being helped up along the way, I couldn't come back down to the field so the gardai helped me down the back to the dressing room.

"I was lucky that Dr Con Murphy was able to wrap me up and get it stabilised but I ended up in Tralee General Hospital on the Wednesday and was there for nearly three weeks. Meath kept me going, the team was so motivated that it didn't matter what happened to any player.

"It's hard to believe it's been 30 years, time flies so fast but the memories are still there. Just a fantastic day and a fantastic year for Cork with the hurlers winning their All-Ireland two weeks before.

"The scenes when we came back down on the Monday night, we'd love to see them again but it was incredible that night. There was close to 100,000 people around Cork City and it was a magic, magic feeling. It was an honour to have captained the county to win that All-Ireland.

Larry and 1990 All-Ireland hurling winner Ger Fitzgerald are both backing the #goneredforcork campaign to raise funds for Marymount Hospice. You can make a donation here.

 

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