14 YEARS AFTER he led Cork to All-Ireland senior hurling glory, Jimmy Barry-Murphy is now only 70 minutes away from repeating the feat.
The legendary Rebels figure was at the helm yesterday as his team booked their berth in a September showdown with a five-point success over Dublin.
From league relegation in April to championship triumph in August, it’s been a remarkable revival in fortunes for Cork.
It’s a different era that Barry-Murphy is presiding over but it is still as meaningful for him.
“I am now getting a kick out of it certainly. I don’t know about the last few months but I am now definitely.
“It’s a different era, a different scene. We’ve won nothing yet but I’m enjoying it immensely.
“I’m delighted for the Cork supporters. They got a bit of stick over not following the footballers last week but they came in magnificent numbers today, I thought.
“People in Cork have really got behind the team, so I’m delighted for the players and for the public.
“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.
“We were trying to build up the team after a long number of years without success. 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?”
For the second game in succession, Cork claimed victory over a 14-man team when Dublin lost Ryan O’Dwyer midway through the second-half.
“It’s always an advantage, a break to get for a team. But to be honest if you use it intelligently.
“Conor O’Sullivan has played that role for us, he reads the play very well and we used him as the extra man. Certainly it was a break we needed today.”
Barry-Murphy praised the character shown by his team.
“In the first-half when Dublin got a goal. That could have been a crucial point but we still came back to lead at half-time, which showed character, I thought.
“They showed belief in themselves, that they could bounce back from setbacks like that and kick on. The win over Kilkenny gave us a great fillip, beating such an outstanding team had to be a boost to us. It was great for our confidence.”
Cork now get set for an All-Ireland final with a team that is light on experience of marquee September days.
Barry-Murphy revealed that one of his established players Brian Murphy will be back available after recovering from injury and he is also confident his younger players can shine.
“We could have brought Brian on today if it was serious enough to bring him in. We were hoping to get away with it, but he will certainly be an option for the final, I think.
“Tom Kenny, Brian, Anthony Nash has been around a while, so has Shane O’Neill. It’s not all young fellas, we have experience as well.
“But that can be the greatest time of your life – no pressure on you. I remember when I was 19, 20, there was no pressure on me – it’s when you get older you feel the pressure far more. I hope they realise that and enjoy it.”