Display was for Cody, says Murphy

Kilkenny defender Paul Murphy has revealed how the Cats were anxious to put on a show for absent team manager Brian Cody on Sunday.

Display was for Cody, says Murphy

The League and All-Ireland champions scored a comfortable seven-point victory over Galway at Semple Stadium — with Martin Fogarty and Mick Dempsey directing touchline operations.

But All Star Murphy admitted Cody was at the forefront of the players’ minds as the nine-time All-Ireland winning boss continues to recover from heart surgery.

Murphy, 24, revealed it was business as usual in training ahead of the trip to Thurles but conceded: “Maybe there was that bit more added motivation knowing that Brian was going to be at home. It can’t be easy for him so we were going to put in a good effort. At least he could see that the training was going well and at least we were in the situation that he left us in.”

Murphy added: “It was different — we knew for a while back, maybe two weeks, that he wasn’t going to be there. We just prepared as normal — Mick and Martin know the routine at this stage.

“It was just touched upon, obviously, the fact that he (Cody) wasn’t going to be there.

“In so many years Brian has been on the sideline and it was going to be different but we said between ourselves that there’s been some hard days when he’s been on the sideline and this would be one of the better days.

“At least when he was at home, he could relax and he’d know that things were in good hands.”

Murphy is relishing the prospect of a final showdown with Tipperary on May 5.

As part of an extended training panel in 2009, Murphy was at Semple Stadium to take in a classic encounter when Tipp and Kilkenny last met in a league decider, a match that went the way of the Cats after extra-time.

Four years on, Kilkenny have the chance to claim a second successive league crown and Murphy believes it’s a special opportunity for the champions to play a national final on home soil. He said: “We played one in Thurles a few years ago and Tipp got the experience. Now it’s being played in Nowlan Park — it’s great we get to experience it.”

And Murphy believes that Kilkenny are in fine fettle as they gear up for the summer championship campaign despite the absence of key players Henry Shefflin, TJ Reid and Michael Fennelly.

Murphy reflected: “We’re getting close to championship now and lads are pushing for positions. Lester Ryan has really stood out there at midfield and Michael Rice is busting for hurling. He’s back and hasn’t been hurling for a long time. We have a lot of young lads coming through and they’re after getting a lot of games in the last while so we’re in good position now. Henry, Michael and TJ coming back can only be a bonus.”

Murphy also passed on his best wishes to stricken Galway captain Fergal Moore, who was detained overnight in hospital following a sickening collision with Walter Walsh early in the game.

Murphy said: “You don’t like to see it happening. We obviously wish Fergal Moore the best. It’s terrible and you don’t like to see that at all.”

Meanwhile, Tipperary selector Michael Ryan has challenged the Premier County to produce championship form against Kilkenny.

Ryan recalled: “I think back to the last time we met them in a League final (2009). We lost in extra-time in Thurles after a cracker of a match.

“That’s the level we want — we want to play this as close to championship fare as we possibly can. That’s what Kilkenny will bring and we need to ensure we’re at that level as well.”

Ryan has also revealed that Eoin Kelly, John O’Brien, John O’Dwyer and Brian O’Meara should all return from injury to bolster Tipp’s attacking options.

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