He’s been consistent, you have to say that. Jimmy Barry-Murphy has been preaching the gospel of attitude for quite some time and it hasn’t lost its allure for him yet.
“After we played Clare I referred to the match-ups and to the fact that they’d worked out for us on the day,” said the Cork hurling manager.
“But I also said that while that’s great when it works out and you win, but it doesn’t count for much if your players aren’t up to the job in the first place.
“Brian Cody said recently — before Kilkenny played Offaly — that his main concern was getting his own team right, and that struck me as a very sensible attitude.
“It worked out well for us the last day against Clare because our lads were very much up for the game, but that’s not to say Clare are gone, far from it. I’ve no doubt they’ll come back stronger
“I was just making the point that if the match-ups are right on a day when your team is up for it, then that’s a huge plus.”
The former dual star acknowledged the importance of strategy: “Tactics have a place. You have to have a plan — we’re not fools — for your players but you have to hope their attitude is right and that helps with the tactics and the plan.”
Barry-Murphy acknowledged his side’s fitness, expressing doubts that footballers are better conditioned than hurlers: “I don’t think it’s accurate to say footballers are fitter or stronger, I think hurlers are as conditioned as footballers nowadays.
“The dual players we have are big men anyway, and would be strong men, but in general with our team we’d be very happy with their conditioning overall.
“They’re in great shape and would match up to other teams, teams that I’m sure are doing the same levels of work.
“We’re very confident they’ll still be going strong in the last quarter.
“Sometimes with teams it takes a couple of years for them to reach the level of fitness that you’d like to reach — the majority of our players are with us for the last three years, so we’ve had the time with them, and the level of fitness of the players is extraordinary, in fairness.”
He’s around too long to be complacent about the praise his side is currently receiving, though.
“You prepare the team according to what’s at your disposal,” said Barry-Murphy.
“We try to play a game that suits our style of play, which isn’t rocket science — but again, that’s all fine while you’re winning.
“When we lost in Croke Park last year people had a different view, and when we drew against Waterford the first day there weren’t too many people praising our tactical acumen or conditioning.
“We didn’t play well, Waterford were very good and they got a run on us — our mindset was different the next day and we were better.”
Is it good for a team’s confidence to know they can reel in a big lead?
“I wouldn’t like to get too excited about chasing down big leads, but in terms of their mentality and confidence, I think a lot of that comes from their being together for the last couple of years, the desire to keep going.
“The margins are this close, though — we got a break against Waterford the first day, a late free to draw the game, and if we didn’t get that we were in the qualifiers. Now we’re in a Munster final, which is a different mindset, but that’s how close it is.”
The mindset is certainly different with the “Nash rule” furore finally put to bed — “I’m delighted it’s gone and sorted, the rule is there now and we’ll get on with it; we’re not involved in the politics of rule-making, we’ll just get on with it now,” — but Barry-Murphy isn’t rushing to judgement on whether the dual mandate has been vindicated by Aidan Walsh, Damien Cahalane and Eoin Cadogan.
“It’s difficult to argue it because it’s still early in the season.
“It’s going to be difficult for them playing a Munster football final and then a Munster hurling final a week afterwards.
“I’m not complaining, we’re in a Munster final, which is where we wanted to be, and it’s our job to get them up and running for that.
“It’ll be a big challenge for us and for them. Definitely the second game against Waterford would have been a big boost for the lads in that regard, getting their hurling up to speed, and Eoin Cadogan was very good for Douglas in the championship recently. We just have to manage their break with the footballers.”