'I've never got so many ticket requests' - Jackie Tyrrell highlights how big Wexford v Kilkenny clash is
For the first time in 15 seasons, Jackie Tyrrell isn't suiting up for Kilkenny's championship campaign. And he's not denying that the build-up to tomorrow night's clash with Wexford has left him wishing he was still part of the dressing room.
"Sure you would (love to be involved), it's the championship and it's down in Wexford Park and you can almost hear and smell the atmosphere coming already. You can't beat big games where there's a massive interest from the public.
"I've never got so many ticket requests, you're normally trying to give away tickets for the first round! People are ringing you up looking for tickets so it's definitely captured the imagination of people in Kilkenny and the general public."
The Cats go into the game on the back of a chastening defeat to Wexford in their league quarter-final clash but with established players edging back from injury, Tyrrell believes the Cats will be ready to strike back.
"It's prime conditions for it. (They had) a mixed bag of a league and probably an unsettled team and here's a chance to make a real statement.
"The lads are probably hearing the Tipperary things as well and thinking, 'God lads, it's set up for someone to come and seize the All-Ireland'. No better team than Kilkenny to do that."
Tyrrell doesn't believe that Kilkenny were fully tuned in for the challenge Wexford would pose in the league quarter-final clash as they struggled with the sweeper system they deployed.
"They looked stunned, and almost as if they were saying, 'God, Wexford have a sweeper' - everyone knew Wexford were going to have a sweeper. It's almost like they didn't prepare for a sweeper.
Maybe Brian intentionally did that knowing that the June 10 isn't too far away. Probably said, 'Right lads, we'll have to do a bit more on preparing who is going to be our sweeper, how we distribute the ball and things like that'.
"I suppose the only thing about it, Brian learned more out of that day than Davy Fitz which I think could be the big factor come the end of June."
Fitzgerald won't be on the sideline for tomorrow night's clash as he continues to serve his touchline ban he picked up in their league semi-final defeat to Tipperary.
Tyrrell played under Fitzgerald in Limerick IT and knows how the former Banner boss will be able to motivate his Model troops even though he is not on the sideline.
"One year anyway we arrived at a game, togged out, and were meant to come in the dressing-rooms this way and we parked up the bus and we actually ran through the bushes at the far side and the other team weren't expecting it at all.
"I think (the sideline ban) might actually feed into the whole Wexford thing, it's us against the world and Davy likes to manipulate that and turn things around. It will be... no, I don't think it will affect them. He will have his microphone in and be able to get his messages down to Seoirse Bulfin and get it (his messages) onto the field."
And Tyrrell, who is still active at club level with James Stephens, reckons that Cody could shuffle his deck for the trip to Innovate Wexford Park.
"We played Dicksboro in a game recently and Cillian Buckley was centre-back, I would like to see Cillian centre-back (for Kilkenny)," he said.
"I think he's a very good centre-back, athletic, maybe Kieran Joyce at full-back. I think they would be the two big question marks for Kilkenny.
"Michael Fennelly, we played them in a club game, I reckon he'll be midfield and sure then really the forward line, half-forward line, I don't know what way it will shape up by TJ, Richie, maybe Wally Walsh.
"Ger Aylward is back, he'll probably be in the full-forward line. Colin Fennelly was flying it at club level as well. I would imagine he might be in there."