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'This is the strongest panel I've had since return' says Jimmy Barry-Murphy

Cork face Waterford in a Munster championship opener this Sunday.

Jimmy Barry-Murphy: expecting battle in Thurles.
Jimmy Barry-Murphy: expecting battle in Thurles.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

JIMMY BARRY-MURPHY is preparing his Cork side for another Munster SHC clash with neighbours and rivals Waterford this week.

But the Rebels’ boss says this is the strongest card he’s held since his return to the top job on Leeside.

After Cork’s promotion to Division 1A in the spring, the Barrs man made several cuts to his panel with the likes of Stephen White and Killian Murphy exiting.

“Since I came back into the job, this is the strongest competition for places that we’ve had, I think,” Barry-Murphy says in the run up to a championship showdown with the Déise.

“I’m very pleased about that. I think that there will be a lot of players disappointed not to be playing on Sunday and that’s the way that we want to have it.”

Cork bowed out of the league campaign with defeat to Tipperary with some suggesting that JBM would be satisfied with the campaign. The All-Ireland-winning coach insists he was focused on getting past the Premier to the finale.

“I’d love to have beaten Tipperary because there was another big game against Clare if we had won that,” he says. “When we played Tipp, we were short a number of players because of injuries and fellas away with work and things like that, but there was no great plan of ours not to beat Tipperary.

“We wanted to win, we didn’t but it was a very good game to play in and we learned a lot from it, I thought.”

Last year of course, Cork were facing into a summer adventure having been relegated from the top flight. This year Derek McGrath and Waterford are in that position.

“It’s the exact same situation as last year,” agrees Barry-Murphy, “but we’re on the opposite side of it now. We came along then and beat Clare and no doubt Waterford will be thinking the same way.

“They were very unlucky to be relegated, just as we were last year, so you wouldn’t be reading too much into it. We’re very aware that Waterford are a good team and it’s going to take a mammoth task for us to beat them.”

Jimmy Barry Murphy shakes hands with Davy Fitzgerald after the game Cork manager Jimmy Barry Murphy shakes hands with Clare manager Davy Fitzgerald after the drawn final. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Last year’s campaign ultimately ended with Cork narrowly missing out on an unlikely All-Ireland title to Clare after two epic matches. Would Cork be coming into this year more confident if they were champs?

“I don’t think it has much of an effect,” says Barry-Murphy. “The Waterford game now takes on a life of its own, it’s a huge match. The winners go on to play Clare, which is a massive task, but you don’t even think beyond Waterford.

“The record of Cork and Waterford games over the last 20 years has been phenomenal, very up and down, they have had a great record against us. I would think that it’s going to be a very close game, our focus is totally on the Waterford game and nothing else.”

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