Thursday 8 December 2016

Rival bosses looking to get under skin of Cats' sideline king Brian Cody

Published 03/09/2015 | 02:30

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody

In the frantic closing stages of the drawn 2012 All-Ireland hurling final, the sub-plot that unfolded right beside where Joe Canning would land the equalising point to force a replay revealed something about the territorial battle some managers feel they need to wage in Brian Cody's company.

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As referee Barry Kelly moved in to award a free to Galway substitute Davy Glennon from Jackie Tyrrell's contact, Cody shot quickly down the line, waving his hands furiously in Kelly's direction.

In his slipstream Anthony Cunningham raced behind him, conveying his own feelings directly to Cody as he ran. Galway defenders had scarcely marked as tight all afternoon.

As Canning stood over the free the tete-a-tete continued, Cody looming over a grim-faced Cunningham expressing an opinion in animated fashion. Kilkenny selector and fitness coach Michael Dempsey was to one side chipping in with a few words.

Cunningham jabbed his finger in the air in response. He had made his point. After the final whistle the exchanges continued. Whatever Cunningham had said appeared to have irked Cody.

It was passed off afterwards as 'heat of the moment' stuff but Cunningham's initial reaction to Cody's protestations suggested it was something he was ready to react to.

It was as if their battle was an integral part of the greater war, that by standing up to hurling's undisputed sideline boss, there would be a message in it for Cunningham's players too that no-one was backing down.

It's a dynamic that has come into play a few times in recent years, that rival managers feel they must make their presence felt.

Cody may be somewhat bemused by this and Cunningham may offer a different reasoning, but the insight provided by Anthony Daly in his autobiography published last year underlined the psychology he took to his sideline interaction with the master.

Horns

Daly has locked horns with Cody more than anyone else in Cody's 78 Championship games as Kilkenny manager.

His familiarity has developed over 10 games, three with Clare during his initial time in charge of his native county between 2004 and 2006.

His respect for Cody and the good relationship he enjoys with him shines through in the book but so too does the need Daly felt at times to mark his territory, especially in his first meeting, the drawn 2004 All-Ireland quarter-final in Croke Park.

Kilkenny had lost to Wexford in the Leinster Championship and in a subsequent qualifier against Galway, which they had won easily, he had been quite animated on the line.

In Daly's view Galway had "completely rolled over to him" and the former captain, not known for shirking an exchange in his own playing days, made a pledge to himself that he wouldn't take a step back.

"I said to myself I'm going to stand up for myself anyway when we play them. I wanted our boys to know that know that none of us was going to be walked over, including myself on the sideline," he wrote.

Thus, when Cody called for a sideline ball to be awarded Kilkenny's way at one stage, Daly, primed and ready, cut loose with sharp words.

"I don't care what you've done, you won't f***ing bully me. You got away with that the last day, you won't get away with that today," he said, delivering what he described as a "dunt" of the shoulder into his opposite number.

They clashed again over a disputed line ball in a 2011 League match when Daly was in charge of Dublin, an exchange that Daly recalled nearly came to blows, with fuses blowing over whether the Clare team of the 1990s would have put it up to the most recent Kilkenny vintage!

But once the match was finished they were able to wear a smile over it.

Tipperary's 2010 All-Ireland winning manager Liam Sheedy also had an exchange with Cody in a League match earlier that year, appearing to push him at one stage during a four-point win in Thurles that provided a marker for what would happen later in the year.

It's not that every manager feels the need to show some resolution in Cody's presence along the line.

You could never imagine the recently departed Jimmy Barry-Murphy, for instance, and Cody remonstrating over the detail of which direction a sideline ball should be pointed.

Barry-Murphy has the unique distinction of being the only manager to enjoy two Championship wins over Cody, the 1999 All-Ireland final and the 2013 All-Ireland quarter-final.

JBM and Galway's Noel Lane, who was manager for the 2001 All-Ireland semi-final that was a defining game for Cody and Kilkenny as a team, have the only 100pc records in opposition.

In all Cody has come across 42 different managers in those 78 games.

Daly has faced him most and also lost to him most, two defeats with Clare topped by five with Dublin.

But Cunningham is next in line with six Kilkenny meetings in the four years he has been in charge and, with a win and two draws, has enjoyed as much success as Daly

Irish Independent

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