Paul Murphy says Jackie Tyrrell is bursting to get back on the Kilkenny hurling team, but he can’t be 100% sure. That’s because Jackie Tyrrell is always bursting to get on the team...
“It’s very hard to tell because Jackie is always so intense,” says Murphy. “He wouldn’t have came back if he didn’t feel that he could get a jersey. No player wants to sit on the bench.
“Certainly after the amount of All-Irelands that he won, he doesn’t want to sit on the bench. But the great thing is that when Shane (Prendergast) got the jersey last year, Jackie was the first lad to encourage him and that’s just the way it has to be.
“If you don’t get the jersey, you take it on the chin and you encourage the man around you. Shane is the same. Shane knows there is a fight for my jersey as well. Nobody owns them, the jerseys are there for everyone and it is up to players to fight for them. You could find Shane playing out half-back, you wouldn’t know. But he will take it as it comes.
“Jackie just wants a jersey. He will take it wherever it is. But he is like a savage in training at the moment.”
Good to clear that up.
Murphy and other players of his age helped to drive Kilkenny on last year, despite the retirements.
“I don’t think we directly said it at any stage, but think we all knew ourselves what the story was with Kilkenny being so successful since 2006, and the lads who were the core of that team stepping aside.
“We had All-Irelands in our own right and we wanted to say that it wasn’t just on the back of them that we had that success. And it was huge motivation. Lads are saying ‘you have a few All-Irelands now, would you not be happy?’ – well, each year has its own motivation. Last year’s motivation was with the lads retiring, we were able to stand up and say that we are still good enough to win the All-Ireland. Thankfully, it works for you.
“But this year is a new year and you look for new motivation. You can’t be going back to the well and focusing on the same thing. This year, it’s just as simple as we are just focusing on the league at the moment. We don’t want to be back in a relegation play-off.
“We are not focusing on championship yet because we don’t know enough about ourselves at this stage. As it stands, we have a great start. We are facing the league champions on Sunday in their own ground. We were in a relegation fight last year, so as far as we are concerned, we couldn’t hope for a better start, That is all far as we are looking because if you looked past it, you could find yourself in relegation trouble again. That is all we are looking at.”
So the motivation comes from within, not without. As Murphy puts it, they don’t even look outside the dressing room for that spark.
“From my own point of view, it is looking at the lads that went before us. For the past few years, I have been sharing dressing rooms with lads with seven, eight, or nine All-Ireland medals and I am there with two or three — you are saying to yourself, ‘who am I to be complacent?’
“You see Jackie there with nine All-Irelands and he is like a dog when it comes to training. He is the first lad out to do the runs and the last guy off the pitch, so you say to yourself if he’s doing that, who am I to be complacent. And Brian (Cody) wouldn’t have that, he just wouldn’t tolerate that either.
“And we all row around that. If you see one lad getting complacent, you just have a small word but thankfully, we haven’t had to do that. And it is a team thing. You just make sure the lad beside you is working as hard as you — it is as simple as that.”
That extends to match day as well, he adds.
“Brian realises when it comes to match day, there is only so much he can do from the sideline. So he wants to see as much as possible that the players take it on and the players don’t be waiting for him to say something.
“When it comes to match day, when it comes to the hard decisions to be made on the pitch, it will be us that are making them, it certainly won’t be Brian. So Brian does put the emphasis on us to take it on and lead. He says his few words and he hits the nail on the head and he talks when he needs to talk. A combination of all those things is where we get our motivation.”
The affable corner-back isn’t pushing for huge fixture restructuring: “I am happy enough, happy with the way it is going.
“It has been a forum for the last few years, different players have thoughts and a lot of people from outside who aren’t players, having an opinion on it. As far as I am concerned at the moment, I am happy with how it is, I like the structure as it is.
“Having said that, I would be open to change as well. As it stands, I am happy with how the league is and happy with how the championship is but it is easy to say that as All-Ireland champions.”
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