Thursday 21 November 2019

Murphy hopeful of making impact on Cats' summer upon return from Lebanon tour

‘There’s a small astroturf pitch out there. Every Saturday we’d organise hurling training for anyone who wanted to come’. Photo: Sportsfile
‘There’s a small astroturf pitch out there. Every Saturday we’d organise hurling training for anyone who wanted to come’. Photo: Sportsfile

Conor McKeon

Paul Murphy hopes to have some impact on Kilkenny's championship summer, despite the fact that he will miss their entire National League campaign due to his work with the defence forces.

The Cats defender will shortly embark on his third tour of duty to Lebanon with the Irish Army and is not scheduled to return until shortly before his county's summer opener against Dublin in Parnell Park, provisionally fixed for the weekend of May 9/10.

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Kilkenny are also in action a week later against Laois in Nowlan Park, although they then have a three-week break until they visit Salthill to play Galway.

Two years ago, after his second tour of duty, Murphy appeared as a substitute in Kilkenny's opener in Parnell Park. He had, however, been home for six weeks at that stage.

Speaking yesterday at the launch of this year's 'Super 11s', the four-time All-Star admitted his return is "probably going to be a bit too late," to make the start of the 2020 Leinster campaign.

"Trying to balance work with sport is just something that has to be done," Murphy acknowledged.

"I'm excited about going to the Lebanon. I'm going to miss the league obviously with Kilkenny but that's part and parcel of it.

"We're not professional. You have to find a balance. The way the army crosses over with hurling is overseas. That's just the nature of it."

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Murphy is adamant, however, that he won't lack for fitness when he returns next May. Pointing to the example of Eoin Larkin, who won Hurler of the Year in 2008 directly after returning from a similar tour of duty in Kosovo, the Danesfort defender maintained that his training regime while away would be "extremely structured".

"There's a small astroturf pitch out there. It's about 40 metres by 20 metres wide," Murphy explained.

"Every Saturday we'd organise hurling training down there for anyone who wanted to come.

"But also (training) in the mean time for anyone who wanted to play a bit more.

"Aidan McCormack from Thurles is going. Richie Reid is going out as well. And generally on the trips, you'll have people who are playing senior club. I was on a trip with Stephen Molumphy in Chad in 2009.

"So you have to use your initiative. There's a big square out there. A parade square is what you call it. We go out there and we're hitting the ball hard at each other. Now it's concrete. It's a little tougher.

"It doesn't make up for not playing matches. But where there's a will, there's a way."

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