Beware Tribe - even minus Joe
Cats 'keeper Murphy still weeks away from return
Galway minus Joe Canning are "not the same team". So the theory goes - and maybe even the form graph shows. But Eoin Murphy is having none of it.
While Canning recuperates from his long-term groin injury, Kilkenny will also be without a current All Star for Sunday's crucial Leinster SHC round-robin clash at Nowlan Park.
Their goal-saving, point-scoring No 1, Murphy, has resumed light jogging after his recent knee injury but has confirmed that he's still several weeks away from a potential comeback.
Whereas the Cats can boast a 100pc record in his absence, a Canning-light Galway have laboured to a six-point win over Carlow and drawn their second home outing with Wexford.
But the Kilkenny 'keeper refuses to accept that Galway are fatally weakened without their talisman. "I wouldn't buy into that at all," he says, while accepting that he is a loss.
"Joe Canning has been the best hurler in the country for the last three years, probably unlucky not to win Hurler of the Year last year as well.
"When you are missing a player of that calibre, obviously it is going to have an impact. We'd much prefer that we had TJ Reid rather than not having TJ Reid. And I'm sure it's the same up there, they'd want to have Joe playing.
"But you take the six forwards they had playing the last day and go through each of them. They are massive men but all brilliant hurlers."
Murphy reckons a third straight win would "set us up nicely for the rest of the year", especially with a tough last-day outing in Wexford. But he's warns about being even "that little bit off" against the 2017 All-Ireland kingpins.
"We had a reasonable enough game against Galway here in the Leinster final last year. But in Pearse Stadium and down in Thurles they just blew us out of the water," he recalls.
Murphy's injury setback occurred while playing his usual outfield role for Glenmore in an April club match.
"It was a fracture at the top of the tibia. It was a hyper-extension of the knee, it went out one way.
"It was a collision of the kneecap and the top of the tibia and that gave way. I was lucky I didn't do any other damage. Silver lining, I suppose," he says.
Murphy initially feared that he may have torn his cruciate.
"There was a pain level there that I hadn't experienced before," he recounts. "I couldn't move the knee for a while, it was locked solid. Got to one of the physios and he did a cruciate test and that was okay, but there was a bit of grey area around the patella at the time."
As for a likely comeback date, Murphy admits: "The short answer is I just don't know. I did some light jogging (on Monday) and it was my first time doing anything.
"I am just off the crutches a week-and-a-half, so it is just a progression thing.
"If there is no soreness or reaction to it, I can start loading on a bit more, doing a bit more running, do a bit of twisting and turning ... it will be at least three or four weeks anyway."