"It's a skill to be learned, and probably something they're learning at the moment" 1 month ago

"It's a skill to be learned, and probably something they're learning at the moment"

Paul Murphy knows what Seamus Flanagan, Kyle Hayes and the Limerick boys are going through because he was once that soldier.

Go back to the 2016 National Hurling League and you'll find yourself in a time when Kilkenny, just like modern-day Limerick, were hurling's kingpins with a big red target on their backs.

Advertisement

Kilkenny wore the crown well, topping the League table and only losing out after a thrilling semi-final against eventual winners Clare, but it's tough at the top and their season didn't end all that well when they were destroyed by Tipperary in the All-Ireland final.

Paul Murphy remembers the year well, how could he forget the fire and the fury that every other team attack the champions with.

"I get the feeling they're entering this phase which, when you're winning, was always going to come along," the Danesfort corner back says of Limerick's early season blues.

"It's where people start to ask questions of you. It's when the teams you're playing are always up for the game. Take Galway last week, they hit Limerick hard. Waterford hit them hard and closed them down in small areas. I suppose Limerick are just experiencing now that every week they go out, teams are going to be looking to put them off, to niggle at them, to hit them a few digs, whatever it's going to be and how they react is going to be down to them."

"We've had players sent off in the past, similar enough to this," adds the four-time All-Star.

Advertisement

"Sometimes, the emotion just gets the better of players and it boils over. But if you are champions and you know there's going to be a target on your back when you're going out and playing, you do have to say to yourself 'look, don't react.' They're going to target certain players, especially those noted to be hot-heads so it's down to a player to be disciplined."

"Okay they're niggling but why are they niggling, because they want you to react, to get you sent off."

With three red cards in three games, Limerick clearly have taken the bait and Murphy feels that discipline is a skill they're going to have to improve on.

So as much as being focused or the physical skills of the game, another is not to react. It's a skill to be learned, and probably something they're learning at the moment."

Colm Parkinson asked Murphy if he'd have gone down the route of shutting the sledgers up by letting them know who the All-Ireland champions are, but Murphy's response is telling.

Advertisement

"The easiest thing for a player like that, say it's Kyle Hayes or whatever, it must be 'mate we're All-Ireland champions. Go away and don't be annoying me. Wouldn't that shut them up straight away," asked Wooly.

"I don't think Kyle Hayes would be saying that," replied Murphy.

"Certainly it's not something I'd be saying to a player because that's nearly showing that you're arrogant or something like that. That nearly gives fuel to the other team again, because he's going back to the dressing room saying that you're saying that."

Advertisement

"I'd always take it as a compliment if a fella is coming in mouthing at you, I'd be going 'Jesus, he really thinks I'm that important that he has to mouth at me. So I'd just let him at it."

Is it any wonder Kilkenny won so much?