THE FINAL score captured most of the headlines, but for Paul Murphy it was Kilkenny’s desire to win that impressed most.
“People might think that All-Ireland finals come around all the time but it’s not as easy as that,” he said. “Lads didn’t want to have to wait another 12 months for that chance.
“Our lads were busting to win every ball; all you can do is go in as hard as you can – if the ball breaks your way that’s great. You can’t leave anything behind you.
“That was our plan,” the Danesfort man added. “Go in hard, win the ball and give it to the man in the best scoring position. Never stop, keep giving a 100% work rate.”
Murphy and Kilkenny needed to maintain that belief throughout the 70 minutes of punishing hurling.
“After playing Tipp over the last few years we know how physical they are, which is what I think brings in the intensity to the game,” he said. “There was no let-up, especially in the first half when there were points flying over and goals going in - every blade of grass was covered out there.
Step up gear
“We wanted to step up a gear again in the second half. I think we did that. Just like continuing to get scores we didn’t want to let up on our effort because Tipp are capable of getting goals at any time and pulling you back. Goals can change games, but we kept that intensity with us and pushed it out until the end.”
It was an incredible second half performance from the champions, one that Murphy believed was pushed on by the urgings of injured team-mate Michael Rice.
“At half-time Michael had tears in his eyes as he was heading for hospital,” said Murphy. “We were just saying that we had to do it for him, to go out and tack on point after point and not relax. We had to keep hunting for points – the scoreboard would sort itself out.”
Their scoring was one part of the game. Tipp’s lack of an attacking plan was another talking point for many, but not Murphy.
“I wasn’t concentrating too much on what the various Tipp forwards were doing,” he said. “We said we’d stick to our men, regardless of where they were going on the pitch. If it (the constant moving of Lar Corbett) did distract Tipp I didn’t mind; we were concentrating on our own game.
“We weren’t too fussed,” he added. “They were always going to move around. It was our aim to keep our focus and not lose sight of the real aim – to get to the All-Ireland final.”
What was satisfying for the corner-back was how he and his colleagues continued to dominate possession, even when Tipp pushed the Cats hard.
“I think that’s a reflection of our work-rate and how hard we’ve been working in training,” he said. “If you can win the high ball when it’s coming down on top of you then great, but the breaking ball is massive too, probably more so than catching it overhead.
“If J.J. (Delaney) or Jackie (Tyrrell) went up for the ball there was always going to be another Kilkennyman beside him.
“If that ball does break there has to be someone there ready to react,” he added. “The ball can break your way, a lot of luck can come into that, but work-rate will make sure you’re in the right place.”
And the right place is an All-Ireland final?
“Exactly,” he smiled. “That’s exactly the place we want to be in.”