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you cat a win If you don’t win, it feels like a waste of a year, admits Kilkenny keeper Eoin Murphy

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Kilkenny hurler Eoin Murphy. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Kilkenny hurler Eoin Murphy. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy at the launch of the 2021 M. Donnelly GAA All-Ireland Poc Fada Finals, which will be held in the Cooley Mountains on September 25. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Kilkenny goalkeeper Eoin Murphy at the launch of the 2021 M. Donnelly GAA All-Ireland Poc Fada Finals, which will be held in the Cooley Mountains on September 25. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

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Kilkenny hurler Eoin Murphy. Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Kilkenny might have won a Leinster title and shared a league crown along with only missing out on a spot in the All-Ireland final after extra-time, but star goalkeeper Eoin Murphy insists that missing out on the ultimate prize means 2021 goes down as a “waste of a year” for the Cats.

Murphy’s is an all-or-nothing sort of attitude. So when in Barcelona for the All-Ireland hurling final, and with the memory of Kilkenny’s extra-time defeat to Cork still fresh, he didn’t need to remind himself of what he was missing. So instead of finding somewhere to watch the game, he took himself off around the city to see the sites.

“Look, there’s a number of younger players there, and hopefully, they can take a huge amount from (the defeat to Cork). And at the end of it, there are two more steps we have to go, win a semi-final and then after that win an All-Ireland and that’s everyone’s aim. And when you don’t win the All-Ireland, you feel like it’s a bit of a waste of a year, to be honest.”

When he returned home and watched the game back, it only confirmed what he already knew – Limerick remain that step ahead.

“I think (Limerick’s) performance this year when their backs have been to the wall, in particular the Tipperary game, they were awesome in the second half of that game,” Murphy said at the launch of the Poc Fada, which takes place in the Cooley Mountains on Saturday, September 25 and will be sponsored by M Donnelly once more.

“Then the All-Ireland final, they seemed to kick on again. They are ahead of the pack at the moment and it is up to us to chase them down.”

Earlier this week, Brian Cody was confirmed as Kilkenny manager for a record 24th season, surpassing Seán Boylan’s reign in charge of the Meath footballers. And while there was some disquiet in the county last winter, Murphy is relaxed about who is in charge.

“Listen, there’s obviously rumours going around about everything, you take everything with a pinch of salt and you hear things about other counties as well. We had sort of heard he was coming back, but he leaves us to our own devices now. At the moment, that we are knee-deep in club action, so we won’t hear from him for the next couple of weeks.

“Obviously, if you do get knocked out of club early, that is when contact will be made about getting a prehab programme if you have any knocks and injuries. Yeah, really looking forward to it.

“Well, do you know what, the fact the club season is on and we’re still involved in that at the moment, I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest. I know no different than Brian and he has been a great servant to Kilkenny hurling and I think, yeah, we certainly wouldn’t begrudge him another couple of years.”

There are obvious comparisons with Mickey Harte’s long stint as Tyrone manager, but even though they benefited from a change at the top, Murphy sees no issue with the Kilkenny set-up.

“And I think if you look at Tyrone then as well, Tyrone weren’t too far from the top of the pile. Unfortunately, during that period, they were probably coming up against Dublin at their peak.

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“I was at the All-Ireland (in 2018) the year they were beaten. Tyrone were in control in that first half, so they maybe just tweaked a couple of things and went a bit more offensive this year, so that probably suited some of the forwards they had.

“Look, it’s an opinion. I don’t see any issue with Brian. I’m quite happy with it, obviously. I’m being picked; it would be a different story if I’m on the bench next year.

“Look, we are just there to play games. At the end of the day, we are being coached, we are being well looked after, we can have no complaints with the county board or anything like that. So I think when you are afforded that level of enjoyment, you just literally go out and play the games. You don’t mind who is over it, to be honest with you.”

Murphy insists he is enjoying his hurling as much as ever and has no intention of stepping away, but the future of some of the county’s 30-something brigade is up in the air. But whoever does return, Kilkenny will have only one thing on their mind.

“Winning a provincial championship is great, and as you mentioned, sharing the league – I forgot about that. There was a bit of an anti-climax to that simply because we didn’t play a league final. Other teams might look at it as a bit of a successful year. Maybe, look, we feel it was a bit of a waste of a year. It’s probably the high standards we set for ourselves.

“Look, you might have got something more out of it if we had made the All-Ireland and then had a crack at Limerick. And if they had beaten us in the All-Ireland final, they are the best team in the country and you can put your hand up and say, ‘That’s grand’. Look, yeah, when you don’t win the All-Ireland, that’s the case (that it’s a waste).

“And if we don’t win the club this year, it’s a waste. It’s another year gone.”

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