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Monday 25 September 2017

Murphy: Eight years is far too long for Kildare to stay in wilderness

Kildare selectors Enda Murphy and Ronan Sweeney with Lilywhite manager Cian O’Neill. Photo: Sportsfile
Kildare selectors Enda Murphy and Ronan Sweeney with Lilywhite manager Cian O’Neill. Photo: Sportsfile

It's so far removed from doing laps of the pitch in Newbridge under the observation of Mick O'Dwyer that Enda Murphy laughs when asked to compare the coaching he received as a Kildare goalkeeper in their last real glory era and the training he conducts now in his role as selector.

"It was much more basic, the whole mindset in terms of preparation," he admits.

The way Murphy recalls it, "Mick O'Dwyer used to have us running around the field with the rest of the team," which now, seems as scientifically opposite to the wearing of occlusion goggles in training as you could possibly imagine.

"So when I'm working with Mark (Donnellan) and Shane (Connolly)," he explains, "we would try and simulate shots that they're going to have to save and spend a lot of time working on their kick-out."

Which leads neatly and inevitably on to Stephen Cluxton.

Kildare’s Enda Murphy shouts instructions during the 2002 Leinster SFC final against Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile
Kildare’s Enda Murphy shouts instructions during the 2002 Leinster SFC final against Dublin. Photo: Sportsfile

The Dublin captain moves silently towards the record for the number of Championship appearances this weekend, a milestone he will equal in the Leinster final and Murphy is not alone in his assertion that the Parnell's man has "revolutionised the game".

Indeed, he isn't exactly certain what kind of coaching he would be doing with the Kildare goalkeepers were it not for Cluxton's tactical innovations.

"I think he's been hugely influential," Murphy, who recently spent three years as manager with Castleknock's senior footballers, notes.

Gamble

"And I think if you look back at earlier in his career, I think it's something that has come into his game.

"In particular, in the Pat Gilroy era, he really brought it on to a new level. It was a gamble because it went against everything that was traditional in the game.

"But it's really paid off for him. Without a doubt, it's opened everyone elses eyes to the opportunities that present itself from the kick-out.

"Rather than kicking it long every time, which was happening through the '90s and before that and in the early 2000s.

"The people who prevailed were the teams who had the biggest fielders. That's not the case now.

"Mobility is nearly more relevant now around the field than those type of skills that were required in the past. So without a doubt, he has revolutionised the game.

"He's changed it completely."

Murphy is adamant however, that retaining possession from a own kick-out has more to it than just accurate and early delivery.

It has been noted that Cluxton gets his restarts away closer to the time of the ball going out of play than any other goalkeeper but that, Murphy suggests, is because he has varied and immediate targets.

"He moves it quicker but it's a two-way thing. Obviously he needs to get himself set up quickly but the people out the field need to come alive when the ball goes dead as well.

"So he can be set up, but if he doesn't have those options, he can't get it away.

"So it's a combined effort between him and everyone up as far as number 12."

Murphy kept goals for Kildare in two consecutive Leinster finals in 2002 and '03.

They lost both and face understandably huge odds to win a first provincial crown since 2000 on Sunday in Croke Park.

Even if they don't win, he asserts, Kildare must be more regular participants on such occasions over the coming years.

Indeed, the eight year period the Lilies have had without an appearance in a Leinster final is "far too long," according to their former captain.

"There have been a few times in that period of time where we have met Dublin in semi finals," Murphy points out.

"But it is a long time - it's too long - for Kildare to be out of a Leinster final.

"And we've got this opportunity now where we're back in one. But we want to keep at that level.

"This is a young group of guys who have come together and developed over the last year or so.

"Obviously we want to go out and win this Leinster final.

"But we want to be competing in Leinster finals for the next number of years with this squad.

"The average age is under 25," he explains.

"It's a talented group. And we want to make sure that we perform at this level and that we continue to perform at this level.

"We're not just going in here and hoping things are going to fall into place for us this one time.

"We want to continue to develop this group, so that over the next three, four, five years, they're being talked of as one of the best teams in the country."

"And," Murphy concludes, "this is the start of it."

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