Sunday 23 October 2016

Rebels tweak in search of some Semple revenge

MAY 3, Allianz Hurling League final: Waterford 1-24 Cork 0-17. It wasn't meant to be this way and Cormac Murphy, for one, will do his utmost to ensure that recent history doesn't repeat itself in Thurles this weekend.

Ahead of Sunday's intriguing Munster SHC semi-final rematch (fascinating in part because of that league final subtext) the Cork defender admits that what transpired in Semple Stadium last month was "a bit of a wake-up call".

But it hasn't prompted any drastic reappraisal of the Rebel blueprint, more a case of careful tinkering.

He is confident that Jimmy Barry Murphy's team will be much better when it matters; the sceptics will argue they couldn't be much worse.

"We've been tweaking a few things here and there," the Mallow man, 22, explains. "It's been going well. I'm fairly confident about it myself."


Don't expect the unveiling of any trade secrets, mind you. Not with D-Day approaching.

"I don't want to give too much away, of course - it's only a few small things. I think they will be fairly evident on Sunday when you watch the game."

As Murphy sees it, there shouldn't be "any doubts about our skill level or commitment" but the year-two panellist and league regular accepts that Cork currently stand guilty of flip-flopping within matches.

"We are after building a reputation for ourselves as an inconsistent team, and we are doing everything we can to try and change that," he insists.

"It's probably the worst trait you could have as a team really. We are working on that now. Even in the league final, I don't think we even had any patch of dominance at all. It was a fairly dead performance, to be honest.

"We are working on it and, when we tweak a few things, I think we will be a bit more consistent. We will get rid of that inconsistency all right, I reckon."


Since that league decider, Cork have lost one leading defender (Lorcán McLoughlin to a dislocated shoulder) and gained another following Brian Murphy's return from retirement in response to a managerial SOS call.

It may make for some badly needed competition in a defence denuded by serious injuries to both McLoughlin and Christopher Joyce (with a season-ending cruciate tear), something that Murphy proclaims to relish.

"You will always welcome a fella who has got All-Ireland medals and Munster medals under his belt," he says.

"He has been one of the greatest man-markers in hurling over the last few years and the best forwards in the country will tell you that.

"He was one of the standout performers in the opening round of the championship down in Cork. He's a natural athlete anyway. There's no fear of him. He's in good shape.

"The best forwards ever, the likes of John Mullane and Eoin Kelly, would tell you that Brian Murphy is probably the hardest opponent they've ever come up against.

"If there's a job that needs doing, Brian Murphy is your man," his namesake concludes.

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