CORK camogie manager Paudie Murray is ready to face Kilkenny in this Saturday’s All-Ireland semi-final on the back of encouraging news regarding the county’s dual-player issues.
Five Cork senior football and camogie players’ concerns were eased following the LGFA Association’s decision to move Cork’s upcoming football semi-final with Galway to December 6th.
Murray is also glad another potential fixture-clash has been avoided but believes the WGPA have a role to play in ensuring there is no repeat in the future.
‘It should never have happened and I’ve said it many times, I don’t know why one organisation won’t sit down to talk things over,’ Murray said.
‘Myself and Ephie Fitzgerald talk things through every week and have never had a problem so I can’t see why both organisations don’t do the same.
‘The dual player in the men’s game has come to an end and I think that’s a terrible thing. I would hate to see the day that the girls cannot represent their county in both codes. That is something special and long may it continue.
‘I think that the WGPA has a major role to play in all of this. They were quite vocal this time around and only for them I don’t think the issue would have been sorted. Certainly, they need to get their teeth into this issue a lot more and prevent it from happening again in the future.’
On the field, Murray oversaw Cork’s recent All-Ireland quarter-final defeat of Clare (3-15 to 0-8) but admits he didn’t learn anything he didn’t already know about his team as they prepare to take on Kilkenny at Páirc Uí Chaoimh this Saturday afternoon (12.30pm throw-in).
‘Not really, as this Cork team is together over a long period of time now and the majority of the management team is in place with seven years,’ Murray said.
‘A lot of the players have grown up working with us so we know them pretty well. As for playing Kilkenny here in Cork, I don’t think there is much advantage to being at home as there won’t be any supporters present.
‘Páirc Uí Chaoimh’s pitch is magnificent, it’s the best in the country, certainly better than Croke Park, in my opinion. I do think that the surface will suit us.’
Cork’s opponents in the last-four of this year’s All-Ireland are no strangers on Leeside. 2017, 2018 and 2019 All-Ireland runners-up Kilkenny have lost two of their previous three championship deciders to Cork having defeated the Rebels in the 2016 final. This year, Brian Dowling’s side has been in imperious form, dispatching Waterford, Westmeath and Limerick en-route to the semi-finals. Cork boss Murray understands the task facing his squad.
‘The respect is there and there is no need for any extra motivation,’ Murray said.
‘We are aware of the task that is in front of us. Our team may have changed slightly but there are probably ten players who would have faced Kilkenny (in the previous All-Ireland). We know we will be in a battle and I’d be hoping for a better performance from our experienced players, as they are reaching their peak now. That will be key.’
Whatever about the effort being put in by players in completing this year’s All-Ireland camogie championship, what about managers? Is Murray enjoying his role in the most demanding of circumstances?
‘Certainly, the workload is far greater on our management team this year,’ he admitted.
‘There is less time between games, so have no doubt about it, people’s work life is suffering. There are so many extra guidelines and protocols around match-days that it can become quite stressful. You have all of that to deal with.’
Aside from additional match-day headaches, Murray is glad that this year’s All-Ireland championship got the go ahead. Now he wants his side to make the most of their chance this Saturday.
‘The Kilkenny game is going to be very tight and they will bring aggression and intensity. We need to match them to have any chance of winning as they topped their group and are flying it. We need to perform far better than we did in the quarter-final.’