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Cork selector Kingston pays tribute to 'sporting legend' Jimmy Barry-Murphy

He also highlighted the contribution of Anthony Nash, saying there was never a temptation to bring in Donal Óg Cusack.

Cork selector Kieran Kingston has highlighted Jimmy Barry-Murphy's role in getting Cork to the All-Ireland final.
Cork selector Kieran Kingston has highlighted Jimmy Barry-Murphy's role in getting Cork to the All-Ireland final.

CORK SELECTOR KIERAN Kingston has hailed the impact of Jimmy Barry-Murphy on the Cork hurlers ahead of this weekend’s All-Ireland final.

“Jimmy is a sporting legend, not only in Cork but across the country. When Jimmy talks everyone listens. He’s been there and done it.

“Jimmy has probably played in about 20 All-Ireland finals between everything — club, county, hurling, football — something around 19  or 20. He knows what it takes to win, he has managed Cork to win an All-Ireland, has managed a minor team to win so he knows what it takes.

“In addition to bringing the whole thing together he has fierce rapport with the supporters in Cork and really gets a great buzz around. He has been instrumental in where we are today. The players would certainly support that. It showed the calibre of the man that he said yes. His belief is that there are always good hurlers in Cork.”

And Kingston admits that the side didn’t even consider the prospect of an All-Ireland final at the start of the year.

“After last year losing a semi-final, our objectives starting the year were to retain Division One status in the league. Unfortunately we didn’t achieve it. Second was getting to a Munster final. We didn’t look beyond that at any stage of the year.

“Coming out of Limerick after the relegation battle nobody would have seen Cork, whatever about Clare, in it. It’s a strange pairing from that perspective.”

He also highlighted the contribution of Anthony Nash in goals this year, saying there was no temptation to bring in Donal Óg Cusack as a replacement.

“I think he has been fantastic for us if you look back. Donal Óg was very unfortunate to get a serious injury last year in the league semi-final and Martin Coleman stepped in and played and then Anthony got his opportunity and has taken it with both hands, but it goes back to the point made earlier: there are always good hurlers in Cork. If Donal Óg didn’t get injured or Martin was still in goal, Anthony wouldn’t have his All-Star.”

He continued: “Any decision to leave any player who has had such a fantastic career with Cork, not just Donal Óg, is a huge decision to make and is not one which is taken lightly. Donal Óg has been a fantastic servant to Cork hurling and a huge success and a huge influence in the dressing room as much as on the pitch.

“We see that in all the players who played with him. We, as management, saw it too. He was a super captain and he was a huge loss to us when he got a serious injury. Because Donal had been so successful, of course it was a big decision.”

The Cork side lost a number of players this year for a variety of reasons, and Kingston acknowledges they would have been unlikely to reach the All-Ireland final had the same group of players as last year been available.

“We had a lot of young guys, a lot of inexperienced guys and we lost a lot of experience between retirements, guys opting for one code versus the other, Sweetnam going playing rugby was a huge loss to us.

“If you look back at last year, probably two of our best three players certainly in the All-Ireland semi-final were Paudie O’Sullivan and Brian Murphy. To lose both of those during the year was a huge blow for us. Sometimes those setbacks can cement a team, and it worked well for us in a funny sort of way. We also lost our captain early on in the year with a very serious illness. We had a lot of road blocks.

“Eoin Cadogan has been playing with Cork hurlers and footballers for the last number of years, he had a great game for us last year in the All-Ireland semi-final. Damien Cahalane was breaking on to the panel and this might have been a big year for him.

“I don’t think it rocked our confidence because with two guys opting to play one code over another it gives two other guys an opportunity. Every cloud has a silver lining.”

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