Tuesday 12 December 2017

Murphy backs Offaly to outflank 'in transition' Deise

Shane Dooley hopes to be a dual star for Offaly
Shane Dooley hopes to be a dual star for Offaly
Colm Keys

Colm Keys

It's not often that anyone from Offaly gets an opportunity to say it but Brendan Murphy, who retired from the inter-county game last season, reckons Kilkenny were "almost bullied" at times during the recent Leinster quarter-final in Tullamore.

Murphy feels Offaly can take significant encouragement from a five-point defeat against the All-Ireland champions as they prepare for what is arguably their most important qualifier game in years, according to their former captain.

Offaly's qualifier record, just like their Leinster championship record over the last decade and a half, is quite poor, with a victory over a Limerick team that had been to an All-Ireland final the previous season as good as it got. But they have not enjoyed a victory over any of the teams considered to be the top six over the last decade, their 2000 All-Ireland semi-final win over Cork the last notable scalp.

Decent performances against Cork in the last two seasons point to improvement, but Murphy believes the manner of the performance against Kilkenny and the physical profile of the team augurs well for this weekend.

"I just liked their style of play. They are a big team, very physical. They almost bullied Kilkenny, particularly in the first half. By my reckoning only three players under six foot were on the starting 15," said Murphy.

"I felt we were very competitive. Take Colin Egan on the edge of the square. I haven't seen JJ Delaney have as tough a time in a while. He scored 1-2 and he was breaking ball off lads.

"Maybe there were a few aspects of the game you would have preferred to be different. Granted, Offaly scored four goals and wouldn't have scored as many points as you would have liked but it was encouraging to play for 70 minutes," he said.

Murphy also feels that Shane Dooley, their most prolific scorer, will not be as quiet as he was the last day against Kilkenny.

"Shane wouldn't have had one of his better games at all so if you look at that aspect of it I wouldn't expect him to have two bad championship games in a row.

"I would expect him to have a big game the next day. If the same guys who stepped up the last day step up again along with Shane we could really improve," he added. "I'm only a year off the team and maybe I have played with a lot of guys (so) I know what they are capable of. I do think there are a lot of lads who can produce a lot more."

Murphy believes Offaly might just be getting Waterford at their most vulnerable point.

"They are in transition, having lost John Mullane, Stephen Molumphy and Eoin Kelly among others.

"We played them in 2008 in Thurles, we gave them a good game that day, Eoin Kelly was on fire that day. He's not there now. When you look at it that Waterford team, no disrespect to them, the team they have now they are in transition.

"They (Offaly) are at home again which, in (the) championship, is massive. Waterford have a relatively inexperienced team, a lot of them would never have played in Tullamore because of the league format; the Offaly lads have tough championship games under their belt at the same venue. You would have to be optimistic."

Murphy admits the negativity that surrounds the Offaly team from time to time can sometimes be hard to guard against as a player.

"I think a lot of it is down to confidence and players have been affected by the pessimism that can sometimes surround the team. They are consistently being knocked.

"But we've lost by five points to Kilkenny, it's time to take a bit of self-belief and self-confidence in against a Waterford team that may not have that on the back of a beating against Clare."

Irish Independent

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