SOME of Cork’s greatest hurlers have captained Blackrock to glorious triumphs down the corridors of time.
Ray Cummins, the late and great John Horgan and Mick Cashman, Tom Cashman and Dermot McCurtain are just some of those illustrious names.
Captaining the Rockies on county final day is a huge honour and on Sunday 23-year-old Stephen Murphy will lead the team out in Páirc Uí Chaoimh against Imokilly.
He’s a very young captain as that role goes but he’s been at the forefront of many of their triumphs at minor and U21 level.
Sunday’s starting 15 contains the bulk of those winning teams and in terms of experience on a stage like this, they would not have nearly as much as some of the players on the Imokilly team.
“There would have been quite a bit of expectation around the young-fellows coming into the team but it’s hard to replicate that, Murphy explains.
“The experience definitely helps, but it’s a young team and maturing with every year.
“Last year we lost by a point to Erin’s Own in the quarter-final and you look at where they got to, they were only a puck of a ball away from winning the county against the Glen.
“We knew that we were not that far away but that game was frustrating because we hit 18 wides and still lost by just the point."
Despite his relatively young age, he has a lot of hurling done and has plenty of experience at the top end of the championship in Cork.
“This is my fifth year playing senior and this is the first one we got past the quarter-final. It does get a bit frustrating but we are there now and anything can happen.’’
A hallmark of the current crop has been their ability to retain cool heads when the pendulum might appear to be swinging against them, something that was very evident in the semi-final triumph over Na Piarsaigh when they got caught with two sucker punches after half-time.
“Yes, I suppose it helped us that those goals came so early in the second-half, we still had plenty of time left and we didn’t panic.
“We got a few points back and before we knew it we were back in the game and it was important for us that we were there or thereabouts going into the last 10 minutes."
Now it’s the final frontier on Sunday, the most decorated club in Cork seeking to bridge a gap of 15 years since the famous, old trophy was Church Road bound Lifting that trophy would be a huge honour for a player long recognised as having the qualities to compete at the highest level.
Was he surprised when that role was offered to him?
“I suppose I was but someone has to be captain so obviously I am very honoured.
“When you are young you look at the likes of Fergal and Wayne and you put them on a pedestal.
“But we have a lot of leaders on the team which is a big help. I wouldn’t do anything differently if I wasn’t captain which I think is important that you don’t leave it get to you."
Sensible words indeed from a young man who has always led by example in past victories coming up through the ranks.