JBM: We knew Cats were vulnerable

Cork manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy wasn’t in quite the same place in Semple Stadium where he faced the media after last year’s league final — in more ways than one.

JBM: We knew Cats were vulnerable

He was a few feet and a lifetime away. On that occasion his Cork team had been filleted by Kilkenny.

Yesterday they put the Cats out of the championship.

“There were signs of vulnerability, Dublin beat Kilkenny in a replay, which I didn’t see coming, and then Waterford ran them very close the last day,” Barry-Murphy said.

“It’s quite obvious Kilkenny aren’t the team they were, but in fairness, no team can keep going forever.

“Still, it’s very hard for us to come from where we were last year in the league final, to build up morale and to build up confidence and the Munster final was a bit of a setback because we felt we could win that.

“This is a big boost for our confidence, and for our supporters — we had a big following in Limerick and again here today, and they respect what we’re trying to do.”

Barry-Murphy acknowledged that Cork needed goalkeeper Anthony Nash in top form.

“Anthony Nash made two blinding saves and only for that it would have been a different game.

“If they’d scored a goal, given our vulnerability after the Munster final, I’m not sure how we would have reacted.

“I’m delighted with the win, it’s a great achievement for Cork to beat Kilkenny and I’m delighted for the lads.”

The good start Cork got was more design than accident, he added.

“We were very disappointed with our first-half display against Limerick. We didn’t play well. We felt at half-time in that game that we should have been well ahead, that there were opportunities we didn’t take.

“We felt we had to put down a marker early today, that if we didn’t they’d blow us away, as happened in the league final last year.

“We had to show we were up for it today, to hang in there in the game, but we did better than that in the first half.”

Two players were very significant for Cork yesterday.

Patrick Horgan, who saw his Munster final red card overturned, and Conor O’Sullivan, who was Cork’s extra man following the dismissal of Henry Shefflin.

“We successfully argued Patrick’s case last week and I think the right decision was made,” said Barry-Murphy.

“I’m delighted he was able to play a role. We felt it would have been very tough on him to miss the game and we argued our case on the basis of the evidence we produced, and I think it was a fair result.

“Conor O’Sullivan is very good for that role, he’s a good hurler and he has a good head for the game.

“In the modern game, with fitness levels the way they are, it’s very difficult for 14 to play 15 — it’s almost impossible.

“In the Munster final we hung in there for a long time, which we didn’t get much credit for, but it’s almost impossible to hold out.”

The Cork icon was delighted with his side’s development: “I’m thrilled with it, the players gave us everything and it’s a great sign of the players to come back from the defeat in the Munster final.”

And their semi-final opponents?

“We’ll think about Dublin tomorrow. They’re a great team, they have a great manager, they beat Kilkenny in a replay and it’s going to be a great occasion. I think we have a great chance — and I’m sure they’ll think the same.”

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