CORK SENIOR HURLING manager Jimmy Barry Murphy took the positives from yesterday’s defeat to Galway in the All-Ireland SHC semi-final.
The five-point loss brings the curtain down on the Leeside icon’s first season back at the helm of the Rebels. And after a year which saw the young side reach a league decider and the last four of the championship, Barry-Murphy can reflect on a good start.
“The introduction of a group of good young players,” the St Finbarr’s clubman said when asked to pick the high spots in Croke Park afterwards. “Getting to an Al-Ireland semi-final is difficult and we did that. Getting to a league final is good and we got that. We’ve learned a lot from it, we’ve got a lot to do to get up to the standard of where we want to be and I’m certainly aware of that.
“The older players [yesterday] were outstanding. Tom Kenny and Seán Óg especially were magnificent in the half-back line. They certainly left it all out there,” he added. ”We’ve learned a lot from the year really. It’s all a learning process. It’s very hard — you’re meeting the best teams in the country but we’ve a good way to go yet.
“I thought we played very well. The players showed great spirit, they did the jersey proud. Our defence coped very well. Galway have some superb players, no doubt about that. But I thought Brian Murphy’s marking job on Joe Canning was magnificent. I thought he did the best that anyone could have done on him. Eoin Cadogan was great after playing a football match last Sunday. I think defensively what we did worked well. We decided to man-mark their players and I thought Stephen McDonell did a great job marking Damien Hayes. Brian Murphy on Joe Canning was outstanding, even his use of the ball was magnificent.”
Galway may now well face Kilkenny again in the All-Ireland decider; the Cats play Tipperary in the second semi-final at HQ on Sunday. JBM insists he thought the Rebels had every chance of getting past the Leinster champions, despite their demolition of Brian Cody’s side in the provincial finale.
“Of course I felt we had a chance,” said the Cork boss. “We were big outsiders today, no doubt about it. Galway’s display in the Leinster final was far superior to anything we had produced during the year and we were quite aware that we would have needed to match our performance against Tipperary. And I think we did that. But you know it’s a learning process and Galway are a very, very good team. We just fell a bit short.
“I think they had to respond after half-time. I wouldn’t say they underestimated us but they had to react after half-time because they knew they were in a game. They knew by then that it was a tough game and if they didn’t play to their best, they wouldn’t be going to the All Ireland final. They are now and best of luck to them, they deserve it.”