Nobody can say Eoin Murphy isn’t serious about his hurling but if there’s a chance to have a dig at TJ Reid, he’s not going to pass it by.

His Kilkenny team-mate has been earning all sorts of plaudits of late but Murphy likes to take him down a peg or two. Like when he’s being mentioned in the same breath as club colleague Henry Shefflin.

Henry was there for 13, 14 years and did it at such a consistent level. TJ has done it through the league... we’ll remind him that he needs to do it again for championship.

Or how the goalkeeper shares free-taking responsibilities with Reid. “I take long-range frees for the clubs and Brian was at a couple of games and mentioned it to me. Look, TJ will want to take everything. If TJ could come back and take a puck-out, he would.”

All joking aside, Murphy knows just how important this past spring, when they claimed a Division 1 title, was for Kilkenny after an iffy 2017 season. “Last year we weren’t at the races at all. Lads were getting knocks and stuff. This year we had a settled team, there is a good crop of players and it is a serious panel.”

The recent compliments make a world of difference from being written off: “It was said we were in transition and it was in the county as well,” says Murphy.

The general public just thought there was a couple of years needed here to regain a bit of a panel and get that bite back. But it was always there. It was small things (that needed to fall into place).

“Once you have a settled team, a settled spine — you saw that with Galway last year that they had it set. We felt that we didn’t have that the last year or two.”

As they head to face Dublin in Donnycarney on Sunday, the Glenmore man is as cautious about the opposition as he is about the venue.

“Going to Parnell Park is an extremely difficult place. It’s an odd sort of a place because there’s not much between the sideline and the stand. It feels really close.

“It mightn’t be any smaller than any other pitch but when the crowd is there and they get going it feels like they’re on your back.”


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