Eager JBM well pleased with Rebels’ progress

The throw-in’s a little early tomorrow, but that’s not an issue for Jimmy Barry-Murphy and his troops.

When he was in his heyday winning All-Irelands like they were going out of fashion, Jimmy always enjoyed getting out on the pitch first. As a manager, it’s no different and playing in the curtain raiser is something he is at ease with.

“When I played I liked to play first, but that was just a psychological thing — I didn’t like to hang around waiting while a game was going on outside,” he said.

“I don’t know if it makes any difference to your performance levels, I just think it’s great to get out first to play.”

The 15 Barry-Murphy will send out is picked largely on training form.

“We’ve had very competitive games at training when possible. With the games against Wexford and Offaly coming so fast we hadn’t much of a chance to have those games, but we’ve done so since then.

“One player who’s impressed in training, having done well with his club, is Stephen Moylan, for instance, and we’re paying a lot of attention to that.

“Christopher Joyce is another example. He played very well for Na Piarsaigh, impressed in training and got his game.”

The Cork boss doesn’t feel some of his younger lads are running out of steam in their first full senior season.

“I don’t think so,” said Barry-Murphy. “It’s typical of young players — a great league campaign and then the championship is a whole new ball game, even the league final was a different level of intensity and this is higher again now.

“Some younger players are finding it a new experience, a learning curve, but Conor Lehane got three points against Offaly, two against Wexford, Luke O’Farrell has come in and got two goals. It’s just a natural thing for young players to have a dip in form in their first game, and it’s our job to get them back up to the level we want them at.

“People were saying some of the games lacked intensity, but where we’re coming from we don’t feel we’re entitled to be seen as favourites against any team. That’s the reality. Our record in the last five or six years doesn’t warrant that.

“We’re raising the bar now and we know Waterford will be very difficult because of their players and their record against us. We need to be back at the level we showed against Tipperary to take on the likes of Waterford.”

Any concerns? Barry-Murphy outlines their main worry: “A bit of inconsistency. You might say we’re conceding quite a lot as well, but the game has changed and we’re scoring quite a bit. But having said that, I’m pleased with our progress.

“There was some surprise at the number of changes we made for the Wexford game and picking the team was difficult again for Waterford.

“We’d love to get to an All-Ireland semi-final. The minimum target would have been an All-Ireland quarter-final, though we wouldn’t have set out targets as such at the start of the year, but now we’re there, we want to go further.”

Getting their strike forwards on the ball is crucial to that; Cork have been criticised for not getting the ball to the likes of Patrick Horgan often enough.

“It’s something we’ve been concerned about,” said Barry-Murphy. “Certain players aren’t getting supply of ball, or aren’t getting on the ball as much as we’d like, but at the same time we’re getting big scores, which is encouraging.

“We want all our players working at high intensity, which is hard to do for an entire match in the modern game, but we’re working on all of those things.

“In terms of analysis, I’d be a bit old-fashioned, but it’s something we’ve incorporated into our backroom and we use quite a bit of it. It can be very beneficial, for instance, to look at how Galway brought Kilkenny out the field and left Joe Canning inside, how they had Damien Hayes roaming around the middle of the field.”

The Cork icon added that seasoned players can help counteract those tactics.

“Experienced players can see these situations develop, and they can be hard to counteract at times. For example, Offaly brought players out the field and we found it hard to cope with that for a while.

“If a team gets on top of you that can be hard to cope with, but if you get ahead, then it changes things. When we got ahead of Wexford, for instance, some of the tactics they’d been trying didn’t seem half so effective.”

The Barr’s clubman is optimistic: “I’m very hopeful. We’ve made some progress, I think, the bar’s been raised now again. I believe we wouldn’t be in a position to be rated as favourites against anybody, and that’s how we’re approaching this game.

“I feel we’ve a great chance if we play to the maximum of our ability.”

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up