Monday 5 December 2016

High pain threshold and unsung heroes – Five things we learned from Kilkenny's victory

Damian Lawlor

Published 07/09/2015 | 07:52

Kilkenny captain Joey Holden celebrates with the cup and his team-mates after the game. GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final, Kilkenny v Galway, Croke Park, Dublin
Kilkenny captain Joey Holden celebrates with the cup and his team-mates after the game. GAA Hurling All-Ireland Senior Championship Final, Kilkenny v Galway, Croke Park, Dublin

Kilkenny wrapped up yet another All-Ireland final yesterday as they had too much for Galway. Here is how Brian Cody claimed an incredible 11th Liam McCarthy title.

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Kilkenny players have high pain threshold

Richie Hogan tore his hamstring three weeks ago, Eoin Larkin played in the final with a fractured thumb and could do little in training but run for the past fortnight and Michael Fennelly is dealing with an ongoing back problem at all times.

Richie Power has a serious knee injury which could derail his future input into the team.

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And yet all of these players moved heaven and earth on the pitch for their team yesterday and lifted them to a higher plain sufficient enough to bury Galway.

Eoin Larkin is their unsung hero

Larkin now has eight All-Ireland medals. That's incredible going for a guy who would walk past you on the street largely unknown - and be happy to have it that way.

Kilkenny captain Joey Holden celebrates with the cup and his team-mates after the game.
Kilkenny captain Joey Holden celebrates with the cup and his team-mates after the game.

Four years ago Larkin openly wondered if there would be a place for him on the Kilkenny team with so many players pinning down places on the first 15. He has reinvented himself time and again. There may not be much more in the tank, but we're saying that for quite a while.

He was awesome yesterday; his work rate inspirational.

Galway are just short of getting over the line

They can blame a couple of refereeing decisions, including the awarding of a '65 against them that shouldn't have been - but the reality is that they went into a slumber in the second half and after taking the game to Kilkenny in the first half they were totally dominated -   and let themselves be - in the second.

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Space was compressed as Kilkenny squeezed the life out of them. But everyone knew that would happen in the latter period - Kilkenny always revert to that formation when their backs are to the wall.

Cody is going nowhere

That's 11 titles for the manager now and it looks like there could be a few more before he walks away. Recently retired from his school principal position Cody will have even more time to devote to the job he truly loves.

When his team were eventually finding a foothold in the game he was an animated presence on the sideline, more animated than usual. He pumped the arms, rubbed the hands together and figuratively speaking hit every ball with his players.

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He made all the right calls in the second half and from the Waterford game - when their bench was quite weak - he was able to manipulate his reserves to have a serious impact on the game.

His tactics for the latter period were also spot on  - the ball went nowhere near Joe Canning and Jason Flynn in the second half.

He always protests that no game is ever won on the line - we would disagree.

Galway will be back

Whether they will win an All-Ireland or not we're not so sure. They still lack a little in some areas. But if they can replicate the die-hard spirit they showed against Tipp as the game ebbed away - and the form they managed in the first half yesterday - they can come again.

Anthony Cunningham has brought a few new faces to the team and they will be all the better for the experience of yesterday. His skipper Davy Collins also had a massive impact with two points from play yesterday when he came on. If they can hold that blend of experience and young, raw energy together they can get back to another final next year.

But they'll need a Plan B. And one specifically to counter Kilkenny's compression system in 2016 if they are to cross the line and end that long, long wait.

Read more: From Croke Park to Syria – All-Ireland winner Eoin Larkin 'nervous' ahead of peace-keeping assignment

Read more: Kilkenny (7) and Galway (4) dominate The Sunday Game Hurling team of the Year

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