Wednesday 18 October 2017

Murphy hails Ryan role in Rebelettes dynasty

Team captains Doireann O'Sullivan (left) and Lindsey Davey will face off as Cork take on Dublin in today's Tesco HomeGrown Ladies National Football League Division 1 final at Parnell Park
Team captains Doireann O'Sullivan (left) and Lindsey Davey will face off as Cork take on Dublin in today's Tesco HomeGrown Ladies National Football League Division 1 final at Parnell Park
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Juliet Murphy will travel to Parnell Park today – but only as a spectator.

Her decision to come out of retirement last summer was critical to Cork's eighth All-Ireland ladies football title; coincidentally, it was against Dublin in the quarter-finals that her immense leadership led them through a crisis.

But she handed back the baton immediately and their 'Duracell bunny' Briege Corkery now partners Rena Buckley in midfield.

Murphy admits it's still not easy to sit on her hands, even if she has plenty to do otherwise.

Apart from teaching in Crosshaven, she runs a social running programme out of the hotel at the airport and another 'Desk to 5km' course in Pfizer, so that's four nights a week covered for the brilliant 'retiree.'

But she still misses her football family deeply and provides great insight into the unity that brings the reigning league and All-Ireland champions back to their ninth league final in 10 years.

CONVEYOR

Yes they've got talent and dedication, a brilliant manager in Eamonn Ryan and a conveyor belt that is now providing new bloods like Emma and Orlaigh Farmer, Doireann O'Sullivan and Orla Finn to a forward line in which Valerie Mulcahy isn't even starting today.

Eire Og's Emer Scally is another that Murphy feels will be among Cork's future leaders.

"She's still very young and is very new to senior football, which you need time to adjust to, but she's very exciting, absolute dynamite," Murphy enthuses.

But, for Murphy, Cork's enduring success is built by the little things, like selector Frankie Honohan's homemade training treats.

We're not talking Mary Berry country here, just some simple soup and scones, but he makes them himself, brings a gas ring into training in UCC's 'Farm' every Sunday and serves them up to the girls afterwards.

"I often thought that if a meal was provided some people might rush off," Murphy observes. "But Frankie's soup and sandwiches, that's something very special and unique; everyone sits down together and has a chat, and that's the sort of bond there is between the team and management."

Honohan has been there even longer than Ryan, their father-figure manager, a brilliant technical coach and an ex-teacher who is inventive and empowering.

"Players stay involved if they're enjoying it and a large part of that is because Eamonn gives players autonomy, a sense of freedom to express yourself, he's not in any way dictatorial or authoritarian," Murphy says.

"He loves coaching and he's always interested in us as people, how we're getting on in our lives outside of football, while still able to keep a professional distance.

"A large part of our success is probably because we've been winning too. When you're successful, training and everything is so much easier – success really does breed success.

"There's been euphoria after each All-Ireland, then events and celebrations and that's all very hard to let go of and keeps players going."

Few have managed to get the better of Cork in the past decade. They're looking for an eighth league title today to match their All-Ireland count since 2005.

But they only drew with Dublin in a thrilling earlier group game and while it's the Jackies' first ever league final, they come heavily armed today, with a side that includes Sarah McCaffrey, the latest star of a famous Dublin football dynasty.

"Dublin were definitely the form side of the league, they're unbeaten and are very strong this year, particularly in the forwards," Murphy says.

"They are going to be very hard to stop alright – but Cork have the team to stop them."

Irish Independent

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