SHORTLY AFTER LEADING Cork to a fourth All-Ireland senior camogie title in five years, manager Paudie Murray arrived into his post-game briefing with the press sporting a fresh cut above his right eye.
“I ran into a camera at the final whistle,” he explained.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
During the on-field celebrations, he was stitched up by a member of the Cork medical team but the graze did little to dampen Murray’s delight. He presided over two All-Ireland successes on the one day – leading the Cork intermediates and seniors to glory.
“To retain a title is important,” he said of the senior success. “It takes a good team to win back-to-back All-Irelands. That was our goal all year and we knew it was going to take a great effort.
“I’m delighted for the intermediates. There’s five or six there have put in six or seven years and lost two All-Irelands so they showed great resolve to come back this year.
“We had a job to persuade a few of them and there’s a few good young hurlers coming there and hopefully they’ll come through in a couple of year’s time.”
At the beginning of the year, Murray decided this would be his final season in charge. He took over in 2012 and only once in his reign have they failed to make the final.
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The Cork boss plans to take some time out before deciding on his plans for 2019.
“I’d kind of made up my own mind earlier this year that this was it,” he said.
“I’m seven years there now, four or five dealing with two teams so it isn’t easy as I have a job as well so it’s very difficult. Camogie’s gone much similar to hurling and football now, the level of hours that go into it is frightening at this stage.
“You’re just flat out. Niall Collins spends 14 hours breaking a game down – that’ll tell you the time that’s going into it.
Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO
“I’ll sit back and chill out for a few weeks and make up my own mind. I’ll certainly be involved in a team next year. I am ambitious so I’d like to do something else you know.”
He urged the Cork players to drive on and deliver a third title in succession next season, even if he is not in the hot seat.
“From the players’ point of view, every player wants to be considered a great player and to do that you need three-in-a-row.
“A lot will depend on Aoife (Murray, his goalkeeper and sister), Gemma (O’Connor) and Orla Cotter, whether they stay around. It’s something that hasn’ been done by this team.
“If those three players want to be considered among the greats of the game that’s important for them (the win the three-in-a-row).
“I came into the camogie not to continue it the way it was; I came in to train the games like the hurlers and the footballers in our county and we pride ourselves on that. We want to be the best prepared team and that’s the way things are going at the moment and Kilkenny would be the same way.
“Girls are fitter, they’re stronger, their skill levels are better, they’re being prepared better from a mental and a tactical point of view.”
Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO
Murray took umbrage with the notion that Cork played defensively. Kilkenny dropped a forward back as a sweeper which left both sides with a spare defender.
“We’ve always gone to play open hurling. If you look at our scores this year, we’ve put up big scores. It’s not our problem if somebody goes with a sweeper against us. I read reports that we use a sweeper and it sickens me – we have never used a sweeper.
“We have never gone to play a sweeper – our centre-back doesn’t move out of the position. I can’t deal with the opposition and what they do.
“If you look at it, they had five on one side of the field and seven on the other, which can’t be done.”
Kilkenny and Cork have struck up a fierce rivalry over the last few years and have met in each of the three deciders, and in four of the last five.
“Kilkenny and ourselves have advanced the game dramatically over the last four or five years. I think both counties should be congratulated for that.”
There have been several notable moments along the way, including the infamous pre-game handshake incident of 2016. Then there was the perceived lack of respect Cork showed to Kilkenny when they warmed down during the presentation of the league trophy to the Cats in 2017.
Source: James Crombie/INPHO
Kilkenny outperformed their rivals last September but Cork hit two late, late scores to deny the Cats two-in-a-row celebrations. In the league final meeting between the sides back in April, Kilkenny stormed 0-11 to 0-1 in front but ended up winning by a single point after Cork missed a late penalty.
Murray felt that Cork’s response that day was a big moment in their season, despite the defeat.
“We did speak about it to be honest. Not taking from Kilkenny’s victory we were just back from Fuengirola (in Spain on a team holiday) the week before and let’s just say they weren’t doing warm weather training.
“So we weren’t as good as we should have been and showed a lot of character in the second-half. We did something similar a few years ago, nine points against Kilkenny in a semi-final and won by nine so I think that gave us a lot of strength today. The key for us was not to crack and the evidence is there.”
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