Jimmy Barry-Murphy pushes big decision into future

Cork manager inducted into the GAA Museum Hall of Fame along with Dublin legend Jimmy Keaveney

As one of the two new inductees – along with Dublin footballer Jimmy Keaveney – into the GAA Museum's Hall of Fame Jimmy Barry-Murphy was immediately faced with a more contemporary issue: what were his intentions as Cork hurling manager after four years in charge?

“I’m not going to think about that now. I’m going to enjoy myself here today. I haven’t even thought about it since [the All-Ireland quarter-final defeat by Galway].

“The club championships are on and I honestly haven’t thought about it since the match in Thurles that day. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still manager as of now anyway.”

Holder of six All-Ireland medals, one football and five hurling, as well as seven All Stars, Barry-Murphy also managed Cork to an All-Ireland in 1999 during his first stint in charge of the county. He gave his reaction to being inducted.

“I didn’t expect it to be honest, whether they are trying to give me a message I’m not sure. It’s a lovely honour and it is a fantastic amenity when you look and see all the medals.

"Mick Mackey's medals are there, Jimmy Doyle, Christy Ring, Jack Lynch. It is a great exhibition and it is lovely to be part of it and to have my memorabilia there it is a tremendous honour for me and my family. It is very much appreciated."

Black card

He was asked about the recent All-Ireland semi-final between Cork’s conquerors and

Tipperary

, won thrillingly by

Galway

, or more specifically whether he felt the black card could be imported into hurling from football to counter fouls like the deliberate taking down of Tipp’s Séamus Callanan, which prevented a goal scoring opportunity in return for a penalty that went over the bar.

Sceptical about the black card, Barry-Murphy said that he believed the issue should nonetheless be addressed but by the introduction of a sin bin, which was trialled some years ago and not adopted by the GAA.

“I’ve been saying it for years,” he replied. “I think a great opportunity was missed when the sin bin was removed. I thought that was a great idea and I think in rugby it’s been a phenomenal success and I always thought, rather than having the black card, that would have been a better road to go down. Put a fella in the bin for 10 minutes. Then you’d sit and suffer.

“We see it in the big rugby games, whereby a team lose a player and they generally concede scores in that time and I think it’s a better policy because I think there are so many grey areas with yellow cards and black cards that some of the referees in the game in the last few months haven’t been sure, I think, which one to issue.

“I think the sin bin is still a better idea than any of those and I’d love to see it introduced in both hurling and football.”

He also believes that the penalty needs to be looked at again. It was amended last year partly because of the success of Barry-Murphy's goalkeeper Anthony Nash in lifting the ball 20 metres out but not striking it until far closer to goal.

The ball must now be struck from the 20-metre line but with only the goalkeeper on the line. Two penalties failed to result in goals in the Galway-Tipperary match.

"When Seamus Callanan was pulled down at the last second, it's a great goal chance . . . the onus has to be given back to the team who were penalised if it's a goal-scoring opportunity."

Jimmy Keaveney came out of retirement at the request of Kevin Heffernan in 1974 and went on to become one of the key players in the county's famous successes of the era, which included three All-Ireland titles in four years. He was also the Texaco Footballer of the Year in 1976 and '77.

He said that the Hall of Fame induction made him feel “very honoured but as I said earlier I’m also very embarrassed” given “the great players I played with and against”.

Hurling remains his favourite sport though and he pointed out that he had represented Dublin at each level of hurling before he went on to wear the county jersey for the footballers at the same grade.

Modern football doesn’t appeal to him as much and he believes that hand passing needs to be restricted.

‘Hand pass’

“They’re really going to have to curtail that hand pass. The name of the game is football and I guarantee if you were to analyse the intercounty game there’d be around three players who’d come off the field at the end and they wouldn’t have kicked the ball.”

In the run-up to Sunday's big match at Croke Park for Keaveney's successors against Mayo, he is confident but not complacent.

"They haven't been tested in Leinster and the big test is coming up on Sunday. But in saying that, they're experienced players with a good manager and he'll be able to talk to them. I hope everything works out but I think it's theirs to lose."

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times