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JBM: 'Mind games are not for me'

ONE thing was certain in the build-up to this Sunday's all-Munster collision in Croke Park: Jimmy Barry-Murphy would not be saying anything in public liable to inflame Tipperary.

It's in stark contrast to the recent All-Ireland football quarter-final between Cork and Mayo, when comments from Brian Cuthbert but more especially his selector, Ronan McCarthy, prompted the mother of all post-match tirades from Mayo boss James Horan.

No such hostages to fortune from JBM at the Cork press night, where he was asked for his views on the recent spate of off-field controversies (the breakdown in Mayo/Cork relations, media bans in Armagh, hostilities with the local press in Clare, mentors advising referees, etc). Do some managers take things too seriously?

"We all take things seriously. I couldn't be more serious about trying to beat Tipperary!" he stressed. "Every team and every management team have to look after their own corner. I try and prepare the team in a very, very positive way ... someone asked me before the Clare game was there a revenge factor for last year. I don't see that as being of any relevance whatsoever.

RESPECT

"I have the height of respect for all the counties we were playing. I have had no hassle whatsoever with people on the line, despite what some people might think. We've had great relationships with all the teams we've played.

"You've got to respect your opponents at all times and I'd be be very slow to get into any kind of mind games stuff. I don't believe in it and I don't agree with it," he concluded.

Seasoned scribes will recall how the same manager, in the hour of his greatest triumph, declined an open invitation to lash his doubters. Five journalists had become amateur actors for a day, playing 'the Usual Suspects' on RTE's Breaking Ball while tipping Kilkenny to win the 1999 All-Ireland ... the unanimous vote inflamed some on Leeside, but JBM didn't bat an eyelid.

Fifteen years later, he says: "I'd like to build up my own team, encourage them to be positive, to enjoy the experience. For us going to Croke Park to play Tipperary, it's a phenomenal occasion and I wouldn't see any negative factors whatsoever in that."


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