Barry-Murphy relishing top-flight pressures
Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy has backed the "cut-throat" Allianz Hurling League Division 1A format to be a success over the next two months.
Most of the top-level counties opposed the new format but Barry-Murphy, back in inter-county management after a 12-year absence, feels the "pressurised" environment of the five games they will play is something that teams will really thrive on.
Avoiding relegation is their priority and that will essentially dictate team selections in an effort to gather points.
"To be perfectly honest, I'd say retaining Division 1A status would be a priority first of all. I'd be telling lies if I said otherwise," Barry-Murphy said.
"There's a lot of pressure to win your home games in particular. You have five high-pressure games and just to get the balance right in picking the team now will be difficult.
"We have some good players coming through. We're just not sure whether to pitch them in. You have to at some stage and I'll sit down during the week and assess that."
Yet, it is the return of one player he managed in his previous spell in charge that has prompted most interest in Cork's league campaign.
Barry-Murphy, who has injury concerns over Niall and Cian McCarthy ahead of Saturday night's game against Waterford, admits that Sean Og O hAilpin didn't hesitate when he was asked back in October.
"The furore about it didn't worry me. When we sat down as a group and looked at the players available to us, we just felt he had a lot to offer still and I hope we will be proved right. He's a fantastic lad, he's a model athlete in his preparation and his overall demeanour," he said.
"I did say to him that we didn't bring him back to babysit young players or to mind them -- he's a player himself. But the example he shows in the dressing-room, and in his preparation, rubs off on other players and I think he has a very big part to play still."