Jonjo Farrell's star continues to rise but Brian Cody warns bigger challenges lie ahead
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody believes the toughest tests lie ahead of Jonjo Farrell after his blistering start to his first season as a championship hurler.
Farrell was given his chance in the Cats' attack this summer after injuries to Richie Hogan and Ger Aylward as well as the retirement of Richie Power through injury opened the door for the 27-year-old.
And Farrell has wasted little time in impressing his manager as he hit 2-9 from play across the two games against Dublin and Galway this year.
"What hasn't surprised me is that he's contributed in a serious way to the team otherwise he wouldn't be in there," Cody said.
"He's spent a couple of years in the panel and it didn't happen for him straight away. Like every player, he didn't come in at 20 or 21. He was more mature when he came in, if you like, but his credentials are good from the point of view he's a terrific team player with a very serious work-rate.
"He wouldn't have been expected nor required to get the amount of scores he got so far and he could have scored maybe nothing in either game and still have played very well from our point of view, from the way he would have contributed to scores got by other players.
"It works like that sometimes. I think for anybody to get that amount of scores in two championship games is nice going but that's not the basic requirement either.
"He was on the end of a lot of stuff, did it very well and if he does the same the next day we'll be happy enough."
And Cody believes as teams become more aware of him, the greatest challenges are ahead for Farrell.
"Jonjo, he worked very, very hard to get called in at whatever age he was. And then to take it on from there. Now the challenge is greater for him. If he had come in a got a point or something, he wouldn't be looked upon in the same vein as he's being looked upon now.
"So that's challenging for him. So it's how he reacts to that challenge. But like I say, the bottom line for me certainly or the lads in charge won't be if he repeats the same scoring feat. It will be how he performs."
Ahead of Sunday's All-Ireland semi-final clash with Waterford, Cody believes the Deise will pose a bigger challenge to his side than they did in the All-Ireland semi-final 12 months ago when the Cats ran out six point winners.
"I think their skill level is massive. You look at their younger players and their skill level is top class. They are excellent players and physically strong players for their age. You look at the more experienced players... they have a terrific mix. I'm not just saying it because we're playing them.
"We're playing them but I would have said it last year, I would have thought it myself before we were ever going to be playing them."