Murphy's pride and prejudice


IT MIGHT have diced his nerves, but Galway's manager Matt Murphy wasn't showing any signs of it in the dressingroom afterwards.

He had just seen his team beat Tipperary to the National Hurling League title with a late burst - but pride took precedence over relief.

"The hurling in the second half was as, good as you'll see all year. It's a huge boost for us. We wanted the league and trained for the league and I think it puts us in a strong position for the championship. The team that beats us in the All Ireland will be a good team. At the moment it's not out there."

The enthusiasm was understandable. Faced with demoralising defeat in a match for which they were favoured and into which opponents Tipperary were carrying injuries, Galway responded with spirit. An interval deficit of five points was trimmed to nothing and a further gap of four was bridged in the last six minutes.

The match had been pedestrian enough until the final 10 minutes. An early goal from Raymie Ryan had given Tipperary the advantage, but an explosion of three goals in four minutes turned the match around as Kevin Broderick and Joe Cooney, for Galway, sandwiched a Nicky English reply for Tipperary - with each goal looking as if it had decisively turned the match.

In the end, it was a pair of in jury time points by Francis Forde and Joe Rabbitte that swung the result.

Matt Murphy has suffered a lot in the last year. He stepped dawn after Clare beat his team in last year's All Ireland semi final but was prevailed on to stay, despite reluctance in some quarters to keep him on board.

Only last January, the resignation of selector Frank Burke developed into another potential crisis. Murphy didn't crack and neither did the players who knuckled, down to play impressive hurling in the new year.

Yesterday was Galway's first major title since winning the League in 1989. It is also the first success in 21 years not to bear Cyril Farrell's imprint.

For Tipperary, there isn't much time for disappointment. "The League is behind us," said their manager Fr Tom Fogarty. "We can focus entirely on the championship now."

That championship match, against Waterford, comes up in three weeks and Tipperary expect they will have regained the services of all their injured troops by then.