Jimmy Barry-Murphy turns back the years to lead Cork to final day of hurling season
Cork manager cites dismissal of Dublin’s Ryan O’Dwyer as key moment
Dublin’s Paul Ryan and Shane O’Neill of Cork during the semi-final at Croke Park.
Forty years after appearing in his first All-Ireland final as a shaven-headed teenage footballer, Jimmy Barry-Murphy yesterday qualified for another.
Once again he’s led a team of youngsters to the final day of the season, emulating the achievement of 14 seasons ago when he first managed a Liam MacCarthy winning team.
After a season that has been punctuated by relegation in the league and a Munster final defeat, he was asked had such an end-of-year flourish been foreseeable eight months ago.
Was he in other words in “bonus territory”.
It was a legitimate question in one way but in another, the notion of any Corkonian considering mere qualification for an All-Ireland hurling final “bonus territory” seemed unlikely.
“I don’t think we’re in bonus territory but at the start of the year I wasn’t thinking of getting to an All Ireland final, I wasn’t thinking beyond surviving in the national league because we were trying to build up the team after a long number of years without success,” said Barry-Murphy.
“I don’t think we’re in bonus territory, but we’re there now and we’ll try to win it. We’ll give it our best shot – why not?”
Vindicating his belief in the pure technicalities of the game was a thrilling match, the ebb-and-flow of which wasn’t resolved until the dying minutes.
“I don’t think either management team will be happy with some of the play because it’s so open, you’d like it to be a bit tighter. But games take on their own life and you can’t do anything about it. It was a fantastic game of hurling, the skill level was fantastic, and there were some decent scores from both sides.”
Asked about the key influences, he candidly cited the dismissal of Dublin centre forward Ryan O’Dwyer for a second yellow card in the 50th minute.
“Let’s be honest, the sending off has to be the key factor. I’ve made a point that with the fitness levels in the modern game the way they are, in Croke Park it’s very, very hard to sustain a challenge with 14 men because you just run out of options.
“We felt in the Munster final it’s very hard. It was the key factor today, let’s be honest about it. It would be not on for me to say otherwise.”
Horgan, Cork’s predatory full forward whose quick reaction in the 66th minute brought about the match’s decisive score and the team’s first goal of the season, recounted what happened, and used the occasion to make a point about the scarcity of green flags.
“I think he cut across me and what happened was that my hand was hooked around him and I could not get it out. The ref blew for a free and I think the reason he threw it in was for retaliation, but it was just a small knock on the hand so it was no big deal.
“Everyone is on about us not getting goals but look any game we played in this year how many goals were scored against us. We got a goal today, they got a goal. We got more points. I don’t know what the fuss is about no goals.
“There are not going to be many goals scored in games like this because there is so little space and fellas are so fit that they will do what they have to.”
Looking forward to the final, Horgan said that he had no preference on whether Clare or Munster champions Limerick – both of whom they have already played in the championship – joined them.
“I don’t mind who it is. We are there and we are just going to enjoy the four weeks while we have them because you might never get a chance like this again.
“No one can say they can expect to be in the all-Ireland final, not even the very best of teams because it has gone so competitive. There are eight teams now who feel they can do it.
“It has gone so competitive that we will take it game by game, we are getting the breaks. Look we are there and we will see what we make of it.”