Murphy focused on avoiding repeat of history
ON a Saturday evening in June 2003, Cork and Larry Tompkins reached the end of the line. The venue was Dr Hyde Park in Roscommon -- and Nicholas Murphy is one of the Cork survivors from seven years ago as the Rebels prepare to renew acquaintances with the Connacht champions at Croke Park on Sunday.
Murphy was at midfield back then when the Rebels suffered a shock 0-14 to 1-10 defeat in a stormy encounter which saw two of his team-mates -- Brendan Jer O'Sullivan and Colin Corkery -- sent off.
After the game, manager Tompkins was the victim of sustained abuse from an angry spectator who managed to avoid security, as the curtain came down on his six-year reign in charge.
"I remember it well," said Murphy. "You just can't take any game for granted. At the time, things weren't going well -- we had been beaten by Limerick in the previous game."
Four weeks before facing Roscommon in a first-round qualifier, Cork had suffered a crushing reverse against the Treaty men at Páirc Uí Chaoimh in the Munster championship. And there was no stomach for a back-door fight as the Rebels bowed tamely out of the championship in Roscommon.
"If the mind isn't right, it's very hard to get yourself going," said Murphy. "It's important that we'll be focused for Sunday. Roscommon have come out of the blue to an extent, but they are still Connacht champions."
Murphy (32) hasn't started a championship game for Cork since last year's All-Ireland final against Kerry and faces a real battle to get back into the team. It's another challenge for the Carrigaline man, who is heavily involved with the family business, National Flooring Limited.
"It's quiet really, like everything," Murphy said. "We're trying to deal with the times. We'd be reliant a lot on the building sector, supplying shops and fitting out houses.
"But if people aren't buying houses or changing things because money's tight, that curtails everything really. But we're still hanging on and that's the name of the game."
With Cork, Murphy is scrapping it out for a midfield place but faces competition from Aidan Walsh, Alan O'Connor and Derek Kavanagh, who earned a recall last weekend.
"I was out for two months this year with an injury, in and out of the league and I've been hampered from that point of view," he explained. "I haven't done as much as the rest of the lads and I wasn't expecting to be involved.
"I'm just glad to be back playing at this stage. My back was at me after the league final and I wasn't available for the two Kerry games. It's one of those wear-and-tear injuries -- there's a lot of mileage on the clock and there's the added pressure of work and driving. A combination of everything doesn't help and the back is something you have to look after. Rest is the cure and it feels okay at the moment.
"Obviously you want to play in every game but the lads there are doing well. But you can't rest on your laurels and think that nobody's going to take your place. It's great to have that competition in every position -- not just midfield but right through the team. You can feel sorry for yourself or you can keep plugging away, keep doing the right thing.
"Hopefully I can get an opportunity at some stage and get back in the team. If I can fall into place, great, but if not I'll be there to give a hand."