Salthill air gives Jimmy Barry Murphy a spring in his step

He’s some man. Less than 20 minutes after the final whistle here, Jimmy Barry Murphy was showered, changed back into civilian clothes and out again strolling along the Pearse Stadium pitch.

He was conversing with Joe Canning, the Cork manager looking closer to 45 than the 60 he turned last August.

The trademark pleasant disposition and trademark smile was on display too and no wonder. As he’d point out himself: “This has been a difficult venue for Cork teams, always. Our record isn’t the best here.”

Above all, his team had preserved first division status, with a game to spare.

That’s a big one for him. He’s a fan of this knife-edge league format, and all the more happy about it when Cork are assured of staying in its top flight.

“I do (support it). It’s very competitive. You’re biting your fingernails, wondering what the scores are from other places, though you try to put all that out of your head.

“No one wants to be relegated. It happened to us two years ago, we still got to the All-Ireland final, but it’s not a tag you want. Preserving our division 1A status, that’s key for this team’s development. The games are fantastic, every game is so competitive. Now we need to be the same in every game.”

They weren’t quite as competitive as they wanted to be in their first game of that campaign but how his charges responded to that defeat against Kilkenny – and from going behind here in Salthill – has pleased and impressed him. “That was a very disappointing display. The players themselves were very disappointed with it, playing in front of a home crowd. But we’ve picked up great since in fairness.

“I thought our lads showed great character (in Salthill). They were two points down and I thought it was a great sign of the lads to come back, even though we didn’t play as well in the second half as we’d like. Some of our wides and option taking was poor. That’s something we’ve got to work on if we’re to be real contenders. But I’m very pleased with the progress we’re making.”


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