GETTING the chance to win a major national title in Kilkenny’s own Nowlan Park is a great incentive for the players.
Paul Murphy was part of the extended panel when Kilkenny and Tipperary last clashed in the National Hurling League final in 2009, but this time he is looking forward to being in the thick of the action.
“It is a great game to be looking forward to,” insisted the Danesfort clubman after Sunday’s strong victory over Galway in the semi-final.
“It doesn’t really matter where the final is,” said the two times All-Ireland medal winner. “It is going to be great preparation for the championship.
“Tipp put up a massive score when beating Dublin. It will be hard, but we couldn’t ask for better at the end of the League – playing Galway and Tipp in consecutive matches.
“It is great to be playing in Nowlan Park though,” he added. “You play League matches in Nowlan Park and so on. The League matches wouldn’t be the same as a final.
“With something serious at stake it is great to be playing in your own pitch. Tipp got that experience a few years ago.
“It is great we are getting the chance now. Hopefully, if we are to win, it would be wonderful to do it in Nowlan Park. It would be great to play for a cup in your own pitch.”
The former minor and under-21 star said Kilkenny got nothing less than they expected from Galway, a right good hurling test.
“We expected the match to be hard, and it was,” Murphy said. “In the second half we upped the tempo and got a few scores, and that took a bit of the sting out of Galway’s hurling.
“We got the goal at the great times as well. On the pitch it was exactly as we thought it would be, hectic all the way.”
The injury to Galway’s Fergal Moore was tough, he said, and he was delighted to hear afterwards thta the player was fine.
“We wish him the best,” he added. “You don’t like to see the stretcher being brought on to the pitch.”
How was it for the players without the influence of manager, Brian Cody in the dressing-room?
Different without Brian
“It was different not having Brian Cody around,” he admitted. “We just got on with life and prepared as normal. Mick (Dempsey)and Martin (Fogarty) know the routine.
“There was no change in training. Maybe there was added motivation known Brian wasn’t going to be there. It can’t be easy for him.
“We were going to put in a good effort so he could see things were going well in training. We kept the heads down. We talked among ourselves. We knew he would at least hear the result, so we wanted it to be a good one for him.
“His absence was touched upon. He has been there for so many years it was so different being without him.
“There have been some hard days when he has been on the sideline. We wanted to make this one of the better days. I think we did!”
In the continued absence through injury of Henry Shefflin, T.J. Reid and Richie Doyle he said the battle for places on the team would continue as furiously as ever.
“Lads are continuously pushing for positions, and especially at this stage of the season,” he offered.
“Lester Ryan stood out in midfield today. Michael Rice is bursting for hurling having been out injured for a long time. It puts pressure on everyone to perform.
“It is great that we can perform without such players, but it doesn’t make the competition for places any easier.
Young lads got game time
“When you have injuries others get to play. We have a lot of young lads coming through, and they got a lot of games in the last while.
“We are in a good position,” Paul felt. “We are happy with what we have seen. Lads have played well in matches.
“When Henry, Richie and T.J. come back that can only be a bonus for Kilkenny,” he concluded.