Monday 22 January 2018

'It's no disgrace losing to Clare' - Jimmy Barry-Murphy

Cork supremo Barry-Murphy candidly admits Banner just had 'too much firepower'

Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy consoles goalkeeper Anthony Nash after the game
Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy consoles goalkeeper Anthony Nash after the game
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

AS sporting wakes go, there was a pretty peaceful and reflective one in Cork's team hotel yesterday morning, which was, admittedly, partly down to its unusual timing.

"I suppose we should really go and get Mass somewhere," mused one supporter in the deserted lobby.

"'Tis a bit late for that now," her companion muttered philosophically.

Nothing Cork had been able to muster – not prayers, not a couple of rocket-fuelled missiles from Anthony Nash, not the dogged persistence of Brian Murphy nor the fluid brilliance of Seamus Harnedy and Pa Cronin, not even the powerful spiritual guidance of their own legendary hurling god – had been enough to stop Clare's runaway train.

In all fairness, as they say Leeside, the Rebels were gracious losers and the standard was set by Jimmy Barry-Murphy, who is as classy off-pitch as he always was on one.

"There is no disgrace in getting beaten by a team like Clare, you have to acknowledge they deserved their victory," JBM admitted. "Over the two days we were playing catch-up both times and eventually you don't get away with that.

"We were chasing down an eight-point lead and got it back to level and that's the time when we got the edge.

"But then you've got to get everything perfect," Cork's manager noted. "One slip then and doubts come back into it and I think that's what happened really, they got the goals when they wanted them, they were brilliant goals and they just had too much firepower."

The psychological effect of Cork's failure to ever get a point clear was confirmed by corner-back Stephen McDonnell.

"If you look up at the scoreboard and see yourself a point up, it does two things; it gives you more confidence to kick on and it puts the seed of doubt in their heads," he said.

The Glen Rovers man admitted to surprise that Clare had omitted Darach Honan in favour of their baby-faced teen assassin Shane O'Donnell who looks like the missing sixth member of One Direction.

"I didn't think they'd drop him. Shane O'Donnell is good as well, but Shane O'Neill is well able to adapt to whoever he's playing, so when I saw him (O'Donnell), I said: 'Grand, Shane will be fine'. That was the least of my worries," McDonnell confessed.

But Seanie McGrath, one of the Cork management team who have another year left of their current term, admitted it wasn't completely unexpected.

"We kinda had a slight inkling that it might happen, but I don't think anyone going into the ground would have expected a young fella to get 3-3," he said.

"Shane (O'Neill) is one of the top defenders in the game at the moment and we still felt that if it (the full-forward) was someone with a completely different physique that he'd still be able to cope with it and I still thought Shane had a reasonably good game."

But even McGrath, who had a blistering pair of jets in his own heyday, admitted bemusement at the game's rapid evolution.

"Hurling seems to be changing, it's gone real fast with fierce movement," he noted.

"You don't seem to have a quintessential centre-back any more, it's very hard to play centre-back now because teams don't play (orthodox) centre-forwards, so even to get a match-up right with them was tough.

"In fairness, Davy's a good manager as well," McGrath added. "You're preparing for a sweeper and it doesn't happen, so the next day you're wondering what he's going to come up with again.

"We're a good side too and we felt during the week that we'd trained so well that, if we were beaten, it was going to have to be by very good side and they were on the day.

"Some fella said to me that we missed important scores at important times and we probably did, but I think even if we had got them they just seemed to have that ability to go down to the other end of the field and get crucial scores, especially Conor McGrath's goal, what a goal!"

Any truth that you had Aidan Walsh and Ciaran Sheehan training with you in the build-up and might get them back from the footballers now?

"No, they didn't come in at all, but, if they want to come in, the door is always open," McGrath said.

"In Cork, the dual thing is huge and they are integrated into the football set-up, but they are physical, they are strong and it would be fantastic tonic for us if they could come in, but as regards this year, no, they've had no involvement.

"But we are man enough to realise we have a couple of positions to shore up, so we'll scour the county," he added. "We have to find a few players and be critical of ourselves and we'll do everything we can.

"It's fractions that decide an All-Ireland final – the dropped ball, the tiny mistake, like not picking it when you should – but the players themselves know they'll have to push on, that titles aren't easily won and they'll have learned a lot from playing in two this year."

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