Barry-Murphy admits to getting a reality check
AS JIMMY Barry-Murphy stood chatting in the shadows of Semple Stadium, the league cup was last seen being carried unceremoniously down the corridor to the Kilkenny dressingroom.
It was easy to imagine the silverware spending the summer season stored in a dusty cupboard in Nowlan Park until the business or retaining its more celebrated companion piece has been taken care of.
“A reality check, yeah,” said the Cork’s boss. “I have been on the receiving end from Kilkenny before, but it is just disappointing to be beaten by so much, especially for the team and the supporters. I am disappointed for them. But we are a young team and were always going to be taking a few knocks along the way.
“All along through the league people were saying we were being cute playing ourselves down and all that,” he continued.
“The reality is that we knew all along that we had to get up to a level where Kilkenny were at. I knew that one win in the league at home would not be the barometer by which we were judged.
“I knew today would be a far, far greater test and when they see a chance to win a national league title, all you can do is stand and admire their clinical approach to the game. The way they hurled was outstanding, I thought.”
For Brian Cody, it was a pleasing conclusion to a league season when the All-Ireland champions played within themselves and made light of the autumn retirements. Yet again he expressed mystification at the idea that there might be surprise at how ‘hungry’ his players were for this league title.
“Well, everyone wants to win a match. Everyone goes out to try and play well and it was just a question of everyone trying to do a job for the team. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But we were strong right through the field out there.
“There was a fierce desire on both teams. Certainly I couldn’t understand why you wouldn’t really want to win it. It’s not
very mysterious as far as I’m concerned that if there is a game on, whether it is a first round or league final, that the natural thinking from every player out there would be to try and win. It was a good performance.
“I am not trying to underplay it. We had a huge challenge and Cork were fancied by a lot of people, which is understandable. The last day they were better than us and we went out to take on the challenge.”
The one blemish on Kilkenny’s afternoon was the injury that Michael Fennelly suffered early in the second half when chasing down a ball with John Gardiner.
The Ballyhale man was in obvious distress and was examined on the sideline prior to being carried to the dressingroom to general sympathetic applause.
“He went over on his ankle. I don’t know how badly yet, but to go off straight away without trying it at all would suggest it is not too good. We just hope it won’t be too serious.”
It was a shame for Fennelly because, like the rest of the Kilkenny team, he had been giving an exhibition. Kilkenny’s touch was light and sharp and they were like a team in peak fitness.
“Well, that is due credit to the man walking in there now, Michael Dempsey. But we don’t do anything exceptional. We are not mad into ferociously hard training, contrary, maybe, to popular belief. We just carry on as we have been.”
And that, for all other teams, is precisely the problem.