Ger Loughnane: No way 'functional' Kilkenny should be going for three in-a-row
They may have won back-to-back All-Ireland titles but legendary Clare manager Ger Loughnane still feels that the the current Kilkenny team are a long way off hurling's great sides.
In a wide-ranging interview with GAA.ie, the two-time All-Ireland-winning boss is aghast at the thought of this Cats outfit going for three in-a-row, feeling that they are nowhere near the previous sides that attempted the feat.
"Looking at Kilkenny now and their personnel, there is no way that Kilkenny should be winning the All-Ireland," Loughnane said.
"There is no way this Kilkenny team should be going for three-in-a-row. Three-in-a-rows were so hard to get before Brian Cody came along. And teams that won three-in-a-rows were legendary teams. Now the present Kilkenny team is functional beyond belief, and they're getting the best out of what they have to an extent that no-one else could do other than Brian Cody.
"But, at the same time, a team with that talent should not be winning an All-Ireland. I have no problem in saying that. They should not be winning an All-Ireland with that team. Totally dependant on TJ Reid, one forward, and maybe Richie Hogan as well."
Given the manner with which they swept aside Tipperary and Galway in successive finals, Loughnane is being very tough in his assessment of Brian Cody's men, although they are undoubtedly below the mark set by the four in-a-row team of 2006-2009.
Loughnane feels that if Clare draw Kilkenny in an All-Ireland quarter-final or semi-final they might be able to catch them off guard but feels that the Cats' experience would be decisive if they met in the decider.
"Maybe Clare could stop them at that juncture. At a semi-final or quarter-final. But they have to be stopped there because once they get into the All-Ireland Final at all they're able to deal with the occasion and they're able to produce a display in an All-Ireland Final."