By Peter McNamara
Jimmy Barry-Murphy is eager for Cork to progress through to the Allianz NHL Division 1 play-offs this term having watched his side produce an
Cork responded effectively to the underwhelming performance they offered up against Kilkenny on the opening night of the secondary competition.
JBM and his management team made three changes to the side that lost to the Cats with Lorcán McLoughlin, Rob O’Shea and Luke O’Farrell all named in the starting line-up on this occasion.
And all three made positive contributions, especially O’Farrell who rifled a first-half shot to the far corner of Patrick Kelly’s net to level the clash on 21 minutes after the visitors had forged ahead.
The Midleton clubman also pointed seven minutes later as the Leesiders’ performance level went up a couple of notches from their previous outing.
“This is only February, a lot of these players have been playing Fitzgibbon Cup and have had a lot on their plate,” JBM said, in reference to the overall output of his troops thus far in the competition. “We are training very, very hard at this time of the year which is not easy but hopefully we can build on what we produced tonight.
“You have to take every game as it comes.
“We have a break now for a fortnight with the Fitzgibbon Cup on next weekend and we have a lot of players involved in that which takes its toll on them.
“Training and playing hurling at this time of the year is difficult.
“We have a break now but we are looking forward to going to Croke Park after that to meet Dublin.”
Cork are not in championship action until the first weekend in June when they tackle Waterford in the provincial series.
With that at the back of JBM’s mind, he is conscious of remaining in league title contention for as long as possible to avoid an excessively lengthy break between both competitions.
“We have always said we would love to make the knock-out stages of the league, we make no secret of that.
“We have got quite a break to the championship with it being in the first weekend of June so we would love to qualify for the play-offs again. It is a difficult division though as we all know.
“You lose a couple of games and you are facing relegation as we did two years ago but we still got to the All-Ireland final.
“Qualifying is important though as the games are quality and it keeps you going when you are in the latter stages.
“It also offers you the opportunity to learn more about your players,” he concluded.