If you want perspective, where else do you go but to a corner-back?
Cork supporters spilled out of Páirc Uí Rinn two weeks ago glowing like the kids in the Ready Brek ad after their side hit 3-17 in their league win over Waterford.
One of the men in red who played that evening stems the hype at source.
“I think people in Cork are realistic about what we can do or achieve,” says defender Brian Murphy.
“I don’t think there’s any talk about titles or anything like that, it’s more a matter of building things step by step and seeing where things end up.
“But certainly the atmosphere at the Waterford game was terrific, you had a crowd of over 8,000, it all feeds in and creates a feelgood factor — but that’ll only last until we have bad results, so we’re well aware we have to keep working away on that.
“Jimmy and the rest of the management team are all high-profile characters, so is [physical trainer] Dave Matthews. That all adds to the interest.”
So does tomorrow’s date with Dublin. New star Conor Lehane has never played in Croke Park before, but it’s not just the rookies who are looking forward to the trip to Jones Road.
“It’s invaluable to all players, not just the younger lads,” says Murphy.
“A big issue we’ve been discussing during the week at training is what boots to wear tomorrow, for instance, because you don’t know what ground conditions will be like there on any given day.
“But it’s great to get the run-out there, you get to see what a big occasion could be like if you’re a young player.”
Murphy is now one of the more experienced players but that doesn’t mean he’s the loudest on the field.
“It starts with Donal Óg [Cusack] in goal, he’s the main talker in the backline — to be honest it wouldn’t be my style to talk my way through games, so there’s no point in forcing yourself to do something you’re not used to just because you’re older than some of the other players.
“Anyway the likes of John [Gardiner], Shane [O’Neill] and Eoin [Cadogan] are well able to talk and encourage the others.”
They all took plenty of comfort from the win over Waterford, and the three green flags in particular.
“Any day you go out and get 3-16 from play it’s a good day out — a big factor for us over the years has been the fact that we haven’t got a lot of goals, and getting three in the first-half was a huge boost.
“Having said that, the fact that we didn’t get any in the second-half has kept everyone grounded. It’s given us something to work on because, as Kilkenny have shown over the years, goals scored at vital times will put the opposition away. I wouldn’t call it something we’re that conscious of but it’s still something we’d like to improve.”
Manager Jimmy Barry-Murphy says the forwards are encouraged to go for goals when they’re on. Has Murphy noticed that trend intraining?
“No matter what training we’d have done over the years we’d have tried for goals, but maybe with the forwards we have now, they’re very dynamic and they may have it in their heads to go for goal straight away.
“If they get a goal it gives the whole team a lift, it raises the crowd — and from a defender’s point of view it keeps the ball up at the other end of the field a bit longer and keeps the pressure off us for a while.”
The Leeside mentality isn’t usually receptive to thoughts of parity with Dublin, but tomorrow Cork face league kingpins and All-Ireland semi-finalists.
“You talk about optimism in Cork, there’s a real feelgood vibe in Dublin. National league champions, U21 and minor All-Ireland finalists. They’ve got a conveyor belt going up there.
“Anthony Daly’s a brilliant manager and their big asset [is] that they can attack you from all angles. I know it’s a cliché but we’re going to be underdogs up there, particularly with the football support coming in for the game with Armagh afterwards.
“But that’s something we spoke about after the Waterford game, when the crowd was on our side. They’ll have the advantage that way tomorrow but we’ll be hoping to use it to drive ourselves on.
“I wouldn’t see the crowd as the deciding factor, put it that way. We’re looking forward to that aspect of it as a great experience, a big day out in Croke Park, even if we’re up against it to get the result.”
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