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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Barry-Murphy's red-hot troops set up to slay Banner

Cyril Farrell

Published 09/06/2014 | 02:30

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Jimmy Barry Murphy
Jimmy Barry Murphy

You have to take your hat off to Cork – that was some performance yesterday. Jimmy Barry-Murphy spoke during the week about the need to get off to a quick start and, once that came, Waterford couldn't live with them.

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The Anthony Nash debacle came up again, but this time it was probably his opposite number Stephen O'Keeffe who raised the biggest talking point.

O'Keeffe's bravery in rushing out to charge Nash's penalty has to be admired, but the reality of the situation is that both players are breaking the rules.

I was sure that the referee would make the penalty be taken again, but it never came. Nash was furious, but he broke the rules just as much as O'Keeffe.

Something needs to be done about this because we're risking someone getting seriously hurt.

At a meeting in Croke Park recently, we were told that referees weren't going to be clamping down on players striking the ball from closer in, but if 'keepers are going to start charging the ball, then that has to change.

SHARP

Cork were very sharp. They were firing over points from all over the pitch. Their forwards really clicked and that worked a treat for them. Pat Horgan, Conor Lehane and Alan Cadogan were all excellent and they look like a really potent force going forward.

Pa Cronin was probably the only one who didn't find that scoring touch, but he still had a very good game.

Waterford looked way off the pace and when you come up against a Cork team that are firing, it is always going to be an uphill task.

They looked nervous. Nothing came off for them – they were sloppy in possession and their short passes were far too loose. Cork picked them off at ease and once they found their rhythm early on, they were out of sight.

Cork will go into the Clare game brimming with confidence now and for me, they will be the favourites. They have two games under their belt, while Clare are coming off the training paddock. That will be a big challenge for them.

The last thing Clare would have wanted was a drawn game, because it means that their opponents will be more battle-hardened. Cork have some lovely, wristy hurlers and they're a match for any team on their day.

It was fantastic to see Paudie O'Sullivan back in action after a torrid year plagued by injuries. He scored a couple of fine points and will be a huge boost to the Rebels' cause.

Kilkenny's opener against Offaly on Saturday was a similarly one-sided game, albeit the winning margin was a lot bigger. In truth, it was men against boys and I think everyone knew it would be.

Kilkenny were on top for the whole game and were clearly playing as if they had a point to prove. They're the league champions and they want to be All-Ireland champions again – that was a performance that said just that.

Offaly look to be in serious trouble. They have nothing coming through the system. The county board need to go back to basics and put adequate underage structures in place.

Offaly will now be hoping to get a team who they can challenge, but they could face teams like Tipperary or the losers of the Cork versus Clare clash and that would be a serious ask for them.

When you compare that to how well Kilkenny's youngsters have settled into the team, you can see the gulf in class. Padraig Walsh and Mark Kelly have both come in and done really well.

Brian Kennedy will have been disappointed to have been taken off early, but he'll come back stronger again, I'm sure.

As well as the younger lads have done, Kilkenny will need their big guns back for the crunch games.

TJ Reid got a nasty looking whack in the knee and Brian Cody will be hoping that it's not too serious, because he's crucial to their hopes this year.

Stronger opposition awaits and they will need everyone fighting fit.

It already promises to be another great championship. Kilkenny and Cork both made serious statements over the weekend, while Limerick went back to their old tried and trusted style which worked so well against Tipperary.

Tipp will be hurting after that defeat, but don't write them off.

There's a long way to go yet, but the early indications are that it's going to be another thrilling summer of hurling.

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