Keeping on top of Tipp: the JBM files

With just one defeat in eight championship matches the Cork manager has at times been the difference between the counties

Jimmy Barry-Murphy in action against Tipperary during the 1985 Munster senior hurling final – widely regarded as his finest display for Cork. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Jimmy Barry-Murphy in action against Tipperary during the 1985 Munster senior hurling final – widely regarded as his finest display for Cork. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 01:00

Two years ago when Cork and Tipperary last met in the senior hurling championship, the match in Páirc Uí Chaoimh was worth two historical footnotes. Tipperary’s narrow, one-point victory was the county’s second in three visits to the Cork venue but the previous win in 2008 had been the first since the 1920s.

More exclusively Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy, then beginning his second tour of duty with the county, actually lost against Tipperary for the first time after a senior inter-county career spanning 37 championships and eight meetings with Cork’s oldest rivals.

This weekend is also historic for that rivalry as the counties meet in Croke Park for the first time in championship – allowing that for some peculiar reason they played the 1896 Munster final replay at the same venue before it belonged to the GAA.

Maybe Barry-Murphy was lucky in that his playing career was almost exactly co-terminus with Tipperary’s famine, the 16-year absence of the county from Munster’s roll of honour between 1971 and ’87, but looking back maybe it was Tipperary who were unlucky.

If his managerial record in the fixture is comparatively a postscript it has been none the less significant.

Paradoxically the match two years ago, although it ended in defeat, marked a more hopeful beginning for Cork than the victory in the 2000 Munster final, which was the last success of Barry-Murphy’s first tenure, a season that ended a match later in surprise defeat by Offaly after which he stepped down.

Firm platform

In 2012 Tipperary were Munster champions and the previous year’s All-Ireland finalists; Cork had been murdered by Galway in 2011 and were in need of restoration.

A one-point defeat proved a modest but firm platform for a season that ended with an All-Ireland semi-final place earned through the qualifiers and in the time since significant improvement each year – the maintenance of which is up for grabs tomorrow.

But it was his performances as a player in Munster matches against Tipperary, which helped to establish the JBM legend.

Having debuted for the county hurlers in 1975, Barry-Murphy began the following season on the bench, his omission from the team to play Tipperary considered a surprise. He was brought on by a selection panel that included the legendary Christy Ring (who both championed and acted as mentor to him in his early career) after just 22 minutes in place of the injured Bertie Murphy, who would also go on to become Cork senior manager.

At the time Cork were struggling but, slotting in at centre forward, the replacement scored a point and changed the course of the match and with it the season that would mark the first All-Ireland in the county’s three-in-a-row 1976-78.

Listing the reasons why Cork won – by just a point, Paddy Downey in these pages reported: “Of all these factors, two were predominant – Jimmy Barry-Murphy’s brilliant display at centre forward all through the second half and two superb saves by Martin Coleman in quick succession from Power and Butler when Tipperary were two points up in the second half.

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