Bride Rovers must plan for new season without club legend Brian Murphy

Two-time All-Ireland winning defender has called time on his career in Rathcormac
Bride Rovers must plan for new season without club legend Brian Murphy

Brian Murphy, Bride Rovers, battling Declan Dalton, Fr O'Neill's, last season, his final club campaign before retirement. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

BALLYHEA, Ballymartle and Mallow will provide the opposition for Bride Rovers in Group B of the Co-Op Superstores County Senior A Grade Hurling Championship. 

A quarter-final defeat by Newcestown last autumn stalled the ambitions of the Rathcormac club who, incidentally had earlier defeated upcoming opponents Ballymartle in the group stages. A win in their concluding game over Kilworth meant that they advanced to the last eight, in a section which was topped by future finalists Fr O'Neill's.

The forthcoming championship will be the first time in 22 years that Brian Murphy will not be lining out for his beloved club and his experience will be a huge loss.

"Brian has called time on his career during the close season and his loss will be very significant to us", commented team manager Liam Barry.

He has been a tremendous servant to our club and has played with our first team for such a long time, so his absence is going to be felt. 

"Added to this Conleith Ryan is abroad and it appears as if one or two other players may be moving away later in the summer.

Liam Barry is a long-standing stalwart in the East Cork club and has witnessed the emergence of his side from junior ranks, all the way to a Senior County Final appearance 13 seasons ago. Now in his role as manager, he is well aware that fine margins can be vital between success and failure.

"We are expecting some very tough matches again.

"Last year whilst we had a good first half against Ballymartle, they came back well into the game after the break. Ballyhea beat us a couple of years ago in Mallow and we know they are a tough side, we will get nothing easy from them. 

"In relation to Mallow, to me, they can be a bit unpredictable. On their day they are very difficult to beat. Overall it looks like three testing games ahead.

"Our initial ambition will be to justify our seeding and then take it from there in the knockout stages. Last year it did not really happen for us in the quarter-finals. Newcestown never allowed us to get into the game at any stage. 

"We just had a new coach in and without the necessary preparation time to implement game plans it was difficult. On the day we were beaten by a better team.

This year hopefully we will have a few competitive league games before the championship, which would be very welcome. Just getting back on the playing field would be a big boost."

Liam will patrol the sideline in the company of team coach Pa Kearney and fellow selector Noel Crowley, whilst Darren Coady has the important strength and conditioning role.

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