For Cork hurling manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy, there’s time for neither dwelling on past disappointments, nor resting on past glories in preparing the team for its Munster Senior Hurling Championship semi-final showdown with Tipperary at Páirc Uí Chaoimh this Sunday.
Still, the legendary hurling boss is anxious not to deliver his home crowd anything approaching a repeat performance of the team’s unexpected collapse in the National Hurling League final against Kilkenny.
“That league final defeat came as a really big shock, because we were beaten so well. We certainly don’t want anything like that to happen again this weekend,” admits JBM, obviously still smarting from the memory of how the Cats slickly dispatched the Rebels by 3-21 to 0-16 over a month ago at Semple Stadium.
However, while the manager goes so far as to reveal his disappointment, he insists that the result will have no bearing on activities on the pitch this Sunday. He describes the mood in the Cork camp leading up to Sunday’s big game as positive, even despite an obvious factor that has been remarked upon by a number of commentators in recent days;
the relatively long lay-off for the team since that shocking league defeat.
But then, there are few sports generals who can turn adversity into advantage as well as Jimmy Barry-Murphy.
Barry-Murphy has even salvaged a positive out of the loss of the formidable skipper Donal Óg Cusack, whose season was brought to a premature halt end back in April by an Achilles tendon injury, which, ironically, occurred in the Cork team’s defeat of Tipperary in the league semi-final at Semple Stadium. Rather than wallow in the loss, JBM waited for a couple of weeks before bringing Cusack back in a coaching capacity.
The weeks since that fateful encounter with Kilkenny have been marked by intense training as a unit, and matchplay at club level for the players, and Barry-Murphy believes his players are ready to go for this crucial championship tie.
He is satisfied with his players’ physical fitness and their mental attitude ahead of the occasion, and is unruffled by the absence of Niall McCarthy from the side.
“I’m very pleased with things. The players have all trained very well, and the mood in the camp is positive. Although Niall was a big loss, everyone else is available. They’re a pretty young squad, and he is a loss, but we have just had to get over it. You can’t be focusing on things like that,” Barry-Murphy said.