Tuesday 20 March 2018

Kingdom not fazed by back-to-back talk - Diarmuid Murphy

We’re expected to win an All-Ireland every year, insists Kerry selector

Kerry selector Diarmuid Murphy was part of the last team to win back-to-back All-Irelands in 2007
Kerry selector Diarmuid Murphy was part of the last team to win back-to-back All-Irelands in 2007
Diarmuid Murphy pictured between Mossie Lyons (L) and Colm Cooper
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

When the expectation is that you should win an All-Ireland title every year, talk of back-to-back wins is not likely to discommode you too much.

Diarmuid Murphy says it hasn't been an issue, hasn't even been mentioned. He would say that anyway. As a member of management his job in such situations is to throw blankets on that kind of conversation.

The fact is Kerry are now closest to a feat that they themselves last achieved eight years ago.

The former Kerry goalkeeper, a four-time All-Ireland winner himself, was part of that team but as potential motivation for the current group Murphy insists they haven't drawn on it.

"It hasn't been mentioned. I suppose in our situation down here, we are expected to win the All-Ireland every year and if you're not doing it it's a failure," he states.

"I think we are putting ourselves under pressure more so than maybe the supporters or the public to perform and do well this year. I don't think it (back-to-back) has been a huge factor really."

Losing to Dublin in successive championship matches, the 2011 All-Ireland final and the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final, may be more central to their thoughts. Never before has a Kerry team lost to Dublin in three successive championship games.


"I suppose that would be one for the players," says the Dingle man, a selector under Eamonn Fitzmaurice for three years now having served with Jack O'Connor before that.

"Of course they got the better of us the last couple of times we played them in the championship and it's been in the fairly recent past as well.

"But coming into an All-Ireland final, do our fellas need any extra motivation to what they have already really?

"There would be talk of different edges and different teams but, no more than the Kilkenny fellas last weekend, you are just expected to perform."

There was certainly an edge to their league game in Killarney in March when referee Eddie Kinsella produced a red card for Dublin's Mick Fitzsimons, four black (two each) and seven yellow cards.

Kinsella left the field to a cacophony of jeers from the Dublin support with the visiting manager Jim Gavin not to impressed with the general tenor of the game.

"In terms of discipline, any hits that they (Dublin players) got they got straight back up, played the game and didn't try to influence the referee," Gavin pointed out at the time.

"All I expect from my players is that if hard challenges go in that they get up and play the game, that they don't get involved with an official which they didn't, that they don't try and influence anybody except their own game and I would be very proud of them in that respect. From my perspective, I am happy with how my Dublin players conducted themselves today."

Murphy insists it wasn't a game that Kerry had specifically targeted after also losing to them in their previous two league matches since Fitzmaurice took over.

"I think that was our third game, we had played Derry in our second game above in Derry and we'd played well up there and that isn't an easy place to go. So we were coming into a small bit of form early on in the year. As it turned out, we played well on the day, we got the win, conditions were poor.

"It was a good win for us, we got two league points and we moved on. I wouldn't read too much more into it really."

Murphy knows the benefits that will accrue from Dublin's two games against Mayo after Kerry experienced the same lead-in last year.

"Looking back to our own experience last year, we played the game against Mayo in Limerick and for us we found that beneficial because we performed well and it really brought us on leaps and bounds. I'm sure Dublin will be all the better for having the second day out."

As a goalkeeper, Murphy appreciates the value of a player like Stephen Cluxton who has, in his opinion, "been the best goalie over the last 20 years."

"He's been outstanding for Dublin. His performance levels, day in and day out, have been very, very high. To be performing consistently at that level for that period of time is an outstanding achievement."

Since the kick-out has been uniformly taken from the 13-metre line, Murphy has seen Cluxton's influence grow.

"He's probably been one of the goalkeepers that has taken it on to another level, especially when the kick-out from the 14 (yard line) came in a few years ago. That made a huge difference, rather than the kick-outs from the edge of the small square.

"Because you are re-starting every time from the same place, it's easier to get set plays in motion then. Definitely he has been leading the charge in that regard for the last ten or 15 years.

"There is more emphasis on the kick-outs, definitely on retaining possession. A lot of that has to do with the defensive set-ups of teams because it now seems to be overloaded with backs against forwards.

"In the past it was six against six so it was hard to work those kicks to space when you didn't have the extra men there.

"Now you could eight or nine backs against three or four forwards, so if you are going about your business right you can retain possession much easier, rather than putting the ball out to the middle of the field."

Kerry put the finishing touches to their team this week with a question mark hanging over captain Kieran Donaghy's place on the team after Paul Geaney's impact the last day against Tyrone.

Murphy sees him making a big contribution however.

"Kieran is one of the best full-forwards in Ireland really, he's well experienced at playing inside on the edge of the square. And as a team we'd be well used to getting the ball into him from the right areas of the pitch as well.

"Tyrone obviously had a lot of bodies back in front of the full-back line as well. As it turned out, he got a crucial point for us just before half-time as well, so he'll have a big contribution to the game the next day."

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