Friday 24 November 2017

Cody and Barry-Murphy: Still rivals after all these years

Cody and Barry-Murphy have been battling against each other for over four decades – now the fifth phase of this epic duel is set to reach a climax

Barry-Murphy and Cody shaking hands at a lunch on the day after the 1999 All-Ireland hurling final which was won by Cork
Barry-Murphy and Cody shaking hands at a lunch on the day after the 1999 All-Ireland hurling final which was won by Cork
Kilkenny's Brian Cody (3) challenges Cork's Jimmy Barry Murphy during the 1983 All-Ireland hurling final which was won by Kilkenny
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

IT'S a rivalry that has run for 42 years and is now headed for its latest instalment in what will be a season-defining game for either Cork or Kilkenny in Thurles on Sunday.

Brian Cody and Jimmy Barry-Murphy have been duelling as boy and man and as player and manager at the high end of the performance scale since 1971, familiar territory which they will re-visit on Sunday for their latest high-stakes shoot-out.

And while Kilkenny are hot favourites to eject Cork from the championship, Cody will be very conscious of the risks involved against one of the few counties that harbour no psychological hang-ups against Kilkenny.

Cork have had to watch the Cats dominate the title scene for several years, but would always feel that, on a given day, they can match anybody.

Barry-Murphy will be emphasising that to his players in the run-up to Sunday's game, while Cody will be warning his troops that a heavy Rebel ambush is a real probability.

The Cody v Barry-Murphy rivalry is now in its fifth phase, with honours shared fairly evenly over the past four decades.

Phase 1: It was 1-1 from their All-Ireland minor final clashes with Cork winning in 1971 and Kilkenny, captained by Cody, gaining revenge a year later. Cody was at centre-back on both occasions with Barry-Murphy at full-forward.

Phase 2: It took them into opposition in the 1975 All-Ireland U-21 final where Kilkenny won by three points, with Cody again at centre-back and Barry-Murphy at full-forward.

Phase 3: This involved three All-Ireland senior finals with Kilkenny winning 2-1. JBM had the early advantage when Cork beat Kilkenny in the 1978 final. Cody, who was best known as a specialist defender, played at full-forward in that championship.

He was at full-back for the next All-Ireland final clash with Cork in 1982, captaining the team to victory over a Rebel outfit, led by JBM, who played at left half-forward.

It was a heart-breaking defeat for Cork who went into the final as overwhelming favourites, only to be blown away by Kilkenny. They met again in the 1983 final when Kilkenny secured a double success over Cork, with Cody again at full-back and Barry-Murphy at full-forward.

Phase 4: It was 16 years before Cody and Barry-Murphy next clashed in an All-Ireland final – this time as managers – with Cork emerging winners in 1999.

It was Cody's first season as Kilkenny boss and while it ended in disappointment, he has since compiled a record-breaking run, which has featured no fewer than nine All-Ireland titles.

JBM, who was in his fourth season in 1999, resigned as manager after the 2000 All-Ireland semi-final defeat by Offaly, but returned to the helm at the start of last season.

Phase 5: JBM got an early reminder of the awesome power Kilkenny can inflicting on the hurling world when they demolished Cork in the Allianz hurling league final in May 2012.

Kilkenny galloped to a 14-point win, two more than in their most recent championship clash with Cork, which they won by 3-22 to 0-19 in the 2010 All-Ireland semi-final.

It leaves Cork seeking their first championship win over Kilkenny since the 2004 All-Ireland final, when they were managed by Barry-Murphy's St Finbarr's club colleague, Donal O'Grady.

However, while the odds appear to be stacked against Cork, Barry-Murphy will be encouraged by the memory of 1999 when he took a young side into the final against Kilkenny, who were hot favourites and emerged with a one-point win.

Kilkenny led by four points heading into the final quarter, but Cork reeled them in, before notching the winning point. Cody would later admit that he felt Kilkenny weren't sufficiently ruthless, a streak which was locked firmly into place the following year and has remained there ever since.

While the odds suggest that the fifth phase of the Cody v Barry-Murphy rivalry will swing Kilkenny's way, Cork can take considerable encouragement from the league clash in Nowlan Park last March.

They lost by two points after leading by three points in the 50th minute. They should have been much further ahead, having missed several good chances, particularly in the first half, when their clever movement and accurate passing stretched Kilkenny very close to breaking point.

Cork will now believe that they can use the wide open spaces in Semple Stadium to exert real pressure on a Kilkenny team that will be having its sixth championship outing of the season.

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