GAA Editor @BrianGBarry
Kilkenny's Paul Murphy out to exorcise demons of 2016 final defeat to Tipperary
Watch Tipperary vs Kilkenny live on Sky Sports
Last Updated: 13/08/19 11:12am
September 4, 2016 was a difficult day at the office for Kilkenny hurling, and in particular, the Cats' fullback line.
The Tipperary inside forward line of John McGrath, Seamus Callanan and John 'Bubbles' O'Dwyer ran riot in Croke Park, scoring 2-21 between them (2-15 from play). The Cats couldn't keep tabs on the rampant trio, and the tally helped the Premier to a nine-point victory over their great rivals.
"It was one of those days. It could happen to you in a league match in the first week of February or it could happen to you in an All-Ireland final. Unfortunately, it happened in an All-Ireland final that day," reflected Paul Murphy, who was a part of the Cats rearguard that was torn asunder.
"The fullback line was singled out for our performance that day.
"The fullback [line] isn't an easy position. You miss a ball further up the pitch and it's just a missed ball. You miss a ball in the fullback line or as a goalkeeper, it's a goal or a point. It's not the most fashionable position to play.
"Part of you has to brush it off and say look 'it can happen, move on'. It will serve you no good to dwell on it, or to knock your confidence. Obviously, it was very disappointing, but look we've moved on from there. It's three years ago at this stage."
On Sunday, Kilkenny will face the Premier in the championship for the first time since the 2016 showpiece.
"If there's a chance to right any wrongs, if that's the way to look at it," continued the Danesfort man.
"Isn't it a great opportunity to be in an All-Ireland final now, playing the same team that beat you three years ago?
"It was a disappointing day, that's all you could put it on down to. Move on from it. We're now in a position to win another All-Ireland final. If we were to win on Sunday, I don't think you'd be too concerned about 2016 or you'd be thinking of it."
"It's not the most fashionable position to play."
Murphy knows he has a high-stakes role
Murphy has been a full-time member of the Noresiders' senior squad since the start of 2011, and it wasn't a bad time to begin an intercounty hurling career. Celtic crosses soon followed, as the Cats won All-Ireland titles in four of the next five years.
However since then 2015, Kilkenny hurling has endured a drought by its own high standards. Ahead of his first All-Ireland final in three years, 30-year-old Murphy isn't taking this one for granted.
"I came in at a fortunate time when we were in All-Irelands nearly year-on-year and we had won All-Irelands nearly year-on-year," he said.
"If you're young and you're lucky enough to get into one at an early age, you're a bit naive and you think - 'I'll have plenty of years here now, I'll have plenty more'. When you get to the latter end of your career, or you get that small bit older, you realise any All-Ireland could be your last. Especially after the last two years as well when we weren't in All-Ireland finals.
"To be back here now, as an older player. You really appreciate it. Not to say you didn't before, but it's just a different appreciation you have."
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After a remarkable All-Ireland semi-final victory over Limerick, full focus switches onto Tipperary. While Murphy noted that the Treaty victory was one of his greatest wins in the famous black and amber jersey, it will all be for nothing if they don't back it up on Sunday:
"We're here to win a final. If we're still patting ourselves on the back for beating Limerick, we're already weakening ourselves and weakening our chances.
"Let's not forget that Tipperary had an enormous battle the following day against Wexford, so a very similar position to us.
"Enjoy that Limerick match in the winter if you want to watch it again. But it will mean nothing unless we beat Tipperary realistically."
Sky Sports' GAA coverage continues on Sunday as Tipperary and Kilkenny face off in the All-Ireland hurling final.