Eoin Murphy feels compelled to make the distinction between a Leinster title and an All-Ireland crown.
By the time 2020 comes around, Kilkenny will have gone four years without the Bob O’Keeffe Cup.
Not since the pre-Brian Cody era, in 1998, when they ended a five-year famine, have they had to play second fiddle for so long in the province.
Murphy has four Leinster SHC medals, two as a starter, and the same number of Celtic Crosses, but two of those All-Ireland wins came via the backdoor. So as Kilkenny fans were bemoaning their team’s lack of composure in the closing stages against Wexford, last month, Murphy was already looking ahead.
“From the point of view of when I was growing up, they were winning them (Leinsters) every year for a number of years, or every second year. But, at the end of the day, no disrespect to the Leinster, but the All-Ireland is the be-all and end-all.”
The intense Division 1A schedule helps to move on from defeats like last month’s, says Murphy. “The league comes on you so quick, and the volume of games comes down on top of you. If you are dwelling on a previous game, there is no point focusing on the negatives. You have to look at the positives and also look at what you need to get right from previous games. If you weren’t using the ball better, you weren’t shooting properly, or your hooks and blocks in the backs (needed to improve), and different things like that.
“It was a bit different when I first came onto the scene: you lose the Leinster final and you probably still had three weeks to prepare, so it was an awful long time.
“Now, with the new system, the next game just comes around so quickly, which means that you do have to park the disappointment straight away. And, in fairness, we did. We just had a brief word afterwards and that was it. We prepared straight away for the All-Ireland quarter-final.”
Having to pick the sliotar out of his net twice in the first-half and denying Alan Cadogan a third Cork goal wasn’t the most auspicious start, but Murphy wasn’t losing heart. “If things are not going so well, then you can get into half-time and talk about where you need to improve on things. I suppose, half-time came at a good time for us. In the five minutes or so before half-time, we got a couple of scores to bring it back to a point or two.
“We were able to recharge the batteries and talk about where we need to improve. But, also, we got the couple of scores before that to sort of rein them back in and have our momentum hitting the second-half, as well.”
Murphy’s biggest lesson from the Leinster final was that Kilkenny need to make possession count. “Our use of the ball, from myself right up to number 15, is key. Again, you just have to be very clinical, because they’ll have bodies there and if you are not aware of that, they’ll be on you in a shot. That’s where you just really need to be sharp; you have to be fine-tuned to no end.
“In the first-half (against Wexford), we were creating a few more chances than they were, and we just weren’t taking them.
“You really need to be taking them against the likes of Wexford and Limerick, who are not going to give away too many scoring chances.”
A high conversion rate will be essential tomorrow evening, if Kilkenny are to avenge last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final defeat, according to Murphy. “When you are playing teams like Limerick — where they waste very little — our scoring percentages need to go through the roof, while, obviously, we have to try and limit them from creating chances.
“In the two biggest tests they’ve had this year — the league final and the Munster final — they just stood up and the amount of chances they created and the confidence in their play and how they set up. But, look, we have that now; we have a good few more games underneath the belt.
“We need to go at it from the first minute. We can’t wait until the second-half, because Limerick will have us blown out of the water.”