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Jimmy on the brink of another glory story with Cork

By Declan Bogue

IN Cork, they speak the name of Jimmy Barry-Murphy with reverence.

As a stylist in both hurling and football, the overly physical nature of football at the time turned him off and he eventually devoted his energies to the hurlers. He's still at it now, managing another young group of hurlers to an All-Ireland final against the odds.

"I'm delighted for the Cork supporters," he said after their win over Dublin.

"They got a bit of stick over not following the footballers last week but they came in magnificent numbers today, I thought. People in Cork have really gotten behind the team, so I'm delighted for the players and for the public."

On getting to the decider he commented: "I don't think we're in bonus territory but at the start of the year I wasn't thinking of getting to an All-Ireland final, I wasn't thinking beyond surviving in the National League because we were trying to build up the team after a long number of years without success."

In the final, Cork will face a team they have already played this year in the Munster Championship. They beat Clare with surprising ease by eight points in the Munster semi-final, avenging those two league defeats, but lost an enthralling provincial final to Limerick.

Bouncing back from that setback has been the hallmark of this team, claims the Rebels boss.

"It was a big setback to us because it was a game we felt we could win and the week after training was quite low. But fair play to the players, they've been brilliant since then and I suppose the fact that we were playing Kilkenny focused minds, certainly."

Back in 1999, it was the Sean Óg hAilpín, Donal Óg Cusack generation, augmented by Brian Corcoran. Nowadays, the most experienced member of the team is Tom Kenny who was withdrawn on Sunday.

They have new leaders now, most notably Anthony Nash, the goalkeeper who stopped a bullet from Ryan O'Dwyer, a 21-yard free from Paul Ryan, and also floated over three long-range frees.

A worthy successor to a lineage going back to Cusack and before him, Ger Cunningham.

"They were crucial," said the man known as JBM of Nash's contribution to the scoreboard. "A great boost because long range scores lift a team and lift supporters.

"If he hadn't scored one of them we might have fallen behind, so those were great scores. He's an outstanding goalkeeper, but I think we've been blessed with great keepers in Cork over the years."

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