Cork defender Cormac Murphy says Tipperary have been the “benchmark” in Munster hurling.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s Munster SHC clash, Murphy paid tribute to Tipp and their talisman, Padraic Maher: “They’re the benchmark in Munster, absolutely no doubt. With the forwards they have and the way they’re able to move the ball at such speed, they’ve hurlers all over the pitch.
“It’s about us and the other teams trying to get to the level they’re at.
“I’d have watched him since I was younger. He’s a colossus there at centre-back, he’s a good hurler, he’s big and strong and he’s an example to any young player, really.
“Like I said, I’ve watched him for a long time and I’m sure there are other fellas now aspiring to be as good as he is really, trying to emulate what he does on the pitch.”
Murphy acknowledged that Cork have ground to make up on Tipperary.
“It’s true, we are way down the pecking order and, after last year, rightfully so, I suppose.
“It was hugely disappointing, but, saying that, when you start a new season you just have to wipe the slate clean, really. We’ve a totally new backroom team and a few players in, so you just have to start fresh and drive on again.
“It’s the biggest test you could ask for, really. Tipp in Thurles, that’s the acid test of any team. I just hope that the hard work that we’ve done will come out on the day.
“We’ve taken heart from the must-win game up in Galway. Hopefully, the supporters did too and we can get a bit of a following up there.
“We’re just concentrating on the bit of work we have to do before it.”
As much as it preserved top-division status, that victory was all the more timely given it followed a no-show against Tipperary in Thurles.
“To be fair, it was an extra test alright, the performances that preceded it would have been a disaster, really.
“But we’re trying to create a new way of playing. We’re constantly changing and trying to get better, that’s all you can do, really.”
Murphy describes the evolution of Cork’s style as “a work in progress” during that string of league defeats.
“I think all the players trust Kieran and the management team and it was a work in progress during the league.
“We lost five games, but there were one or two nights where we were unlucky not to get a result. There was never any major panic, all the players trust the management team, we thought that we were working towards the right thing. Cork are always a championship team.
“The two games where we felt that we needed to stand up (Kilkenny and Galway) and show what we were about, we did. That’s a huge positive, we took good heart from those performances and hopefully we can pull out those again.
“When we get that performance again the next time, we have to nail it on and get the result too. It’s nice having good performances but it’s a game of results, obviously, at championship time.”
Studying for a Master’s in BIS at UCC, Murphy didn’t get a chance to see the recent league final and replay: “I’ve a college project due, there’s a ridiculous amount of work gone into that now so I took a clean break from it.
“I’m spending more hours now in the library than I am on the pitch. Sometimes, you just don’t bother with it, when you’ve a lot done yourself, having video sessions and meetings and you’re hurling yourself. It’s tough going something, mixing college and sport.”
A different test, then, this Sunday.
“There’s unbelievable history between Cork and Tipp,” says Murphy.
“Especially in Thurles, so it’s nice to be part of one, after seeing so many great games between them over the years. We’ve a lot of work done and I just hope that we can do ourselves justice on the day.”
“Tipperary are justifiably the second favourites, if not the favourites, for the All-Ireland and we know how hard a task it’s going to be with the fast-flowing hurling they play.
“It’s about meeting the best eventually, I just hope that when we go up there, we can show everyone the hard work that we’ve done.”
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