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‘We’re better tested, we can’t use that as an excuse’ – Paul Murphy on Kerry’s Munster prep for the All-Ireland series


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On that occasion, fresh from beating Tipperary and then Clare by a cumulative 34 points in Munster, Kerry came horribly unstuck against Mayo. The 2022 All-Ireland champions succumbed by five points, their first championship loss in Killarney for 28 years.

This time around, the familiar road to provincial glory has been a little bumpier – beating Cork by three points and now Clare by seven.

“You’d say we probably weren’t tested last year and we were flat on the day (against Mayo). Maybe it was that reason; maybe it was a number of reasons,” Murphy speculated.

“Look, we definitely didn’t perform. We are probably better tested this year going into our first round, so I suppose we can’t use that as an excuse this time!”

The 32-year-old defender hasn’t noticed any dramatic shift in their preparation for a system now in its second year.

“Maybe it’s from here on that we might change it. But to be honest, I thought we got into a nice sort of cadence and a nice rhythm between the games last year, in terms of how we trained, when we scheduled training, things like that. So personally anyway, I wouldn’t be changing a huge amount,” he said.

His manager, Jack O’Connor, has already described the timing of this year’s group draw – five days out from the Munster final – as a distraction.

“Ah, it can be,” Murphy agreed. “But you just have to keep the tunnel vision and focus on the challenge that’s ahead. The draw’s the draw – you can’t control that at all. So, I suppose you try and focus on controlling yourself and being right (for Clare) and performing.

“Now we know we’ve Monaghan in two weeks and it’s two-week blocks after that … it’s a good structure that way, and we can plan for that.”

Whereas plenty of pundits were distinctly underwhelmed by Kerry’s overall performance against Clare, Murphy felt they had done “a lot of things right” – but the nature of their goal concession was “frustrating” and bound to be addressed on video review.

That said, he knows all about how Ennis can be a difficult hunting ground. He made his SFC debut there in 2014 and, despite an early goal from the roaming corner-back, Kerry trailed at half-time before winning by four. That season, it should be recalled, ended in All-Ireland triumph.

“They’re a difficult beast to face up in their own patch,” he said of Clare. “It’s a great ground, the crowd on top of you, and they gave great support to their team. All of that feeds into it.

“We would have made our championship debuts in 2014 – Paul (Geaney) had come on against Cavan the year before, but myself and Stephen (O’Brien) got our first minutes up here. Ten years, 11 seasons later, it’s gone by very quick. I suppose that’s life really!”

He concluded: “I’ve been really fortunate over the years. I’ve played a lot, I’ve been very fortunate with injuries, and I’m cognisant of the fact that others aren’t … looking at the big picture I’ve had a good run and, touch wood, hopefully we’ll keep that going.”

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