Murphy’s return huge boost for Cork

DOUBLE All-Ireland medal winner Brian Murphy handed Cork boss Denis Walsh a massive boost ahead of their All-Ireland hurling qualifier on Saturday week when he rejoined the county squad for training in Páirc Uí Chaoimh last night.

Murphy opted out of the Cork set-up earlier this season following the winter of bitter conflict over Gerald McCarthy’s position as Cork manager.

Despite approaches from Walsh when he assumed the managerial role, the Bride Rovers man chose not to return. However, following last Saturday night’s success over Offaly in Tullamore, when Cork got their 2009 hurling campaign back on track, Murphy has linked up with the squad again and the former All Star winner’s return strengthens Cork’s defensive hand considerably.

“We’ve been in touch with Brian from day one,” revealed Cork manager Denis Walsh last night.

“We were always anxious for him to come back in, it was never a case that he had retired.

“Over the last couple of months I’ve watched him play club games and he’s been his usual competent self. We’re glad to have him on board as the season is really hotting up. Of course to be fair to the other lads Brian knows there are no guarantees about this season but we want to have every talented hurler we can on board and Brian is one of them.”

Already Murphy has starred for his club Bride Rovers in the Cork SHC and are set to face CIT in the quarter-finals.

Meanwhile, Cork star Ben O’Connor faces a race against time to be fit for the Rebels’ next outing as he fights to overcome a hamstring problem. O’Connor was withdrawn with the injury in the first half of Cork’s win over Offaly and is considered to be touch and go for the next game, though he is receiving intensive medical treatment for the injury.

Cork’s opponents for their next outing on the weekend of July 18 will be decided when winners emerge from the qualifiers between Galway and Clare in Ennis and Limerick and Wexford in Wexford Park.

Meanwhile, Eoin Kelly and Noel McGrath sat out training in Thurles last night but Tipperary insist both players will be fit for Sunday’s Munster SHC final.

Kelly took just a brief part in the squad session before opting out, while McGrath did not figure at all as manager Liam Sheedy put the players through their paces at Semple Stadium.

Five-time All Star Kelly has been hampered by back trouble all year and management are taking no chances with the Mullinahone man’s fitness ahead of the crunch Waterford showdown.

Loughmore-Castleiney’s 18-year-old hitman McGrath, who has performed brilliantly in the championship thus far, has complained of tightness in the groin area and was not risked last night.

Elsewhere Laois footballers have suffered a major blow with the news Tom Kelly has no chance of making Saturday’s All-Ireland Qualifiers’ second round clash with Down at Newry.

Kelly’s clubmate and fellow defender Joe Higgins, who missed the opening two championship ties against Carlow and Louth, will be in the frame for the Páirc Esler fixture.

Wing-back Pádraig McMahon is still out with the broken arm sustained in a challenge game against Offaly. But team boss Sean Dempsey will be able to consider the 20 players who figured in the provincial semi-final.

Roscommon forward Karol Mannion has been ruled out for the rest of the year after picking up an ankle injury in the early stages of a game for St Brigid’s.

It will be 2010 before Mannion is back in action after he fractured an ankle in the incident and extensive ligament and tendon damaged has also been uncovered.

* Bishopstown’s Brian Cuthbert was last night selected as Cork minor football coach at the Cork County Board meeting at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Cuthbert will be joined by selectors Gene O’Driscoll (Tadgh MacCarthaighs), Donal O’Sullivan (Castletownbere), Andrew McCarthy (Inniscarra) and Jerome Walsh (Kanturk).

It also emerged at last night’s meeting that the selection committee to pick the next Cork minor hurling manager will comprise of Pat Horgan (Midleton), Michael Byrnes (Ballyhea), Peter Hogan (Minor Board Chairman) and two County Board officers.

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