'We have no given right to win it every year' - Buckley
Published 18/11/2016 | 02:30
For Kilkenny's Cillian Buckley, winning seasons have been more common than losing ones.
Since his debut in 2012, the Cats have lifted Liam MacCarthy three times with 2013 and this season the only losing campaigns he has known. Given their form either side of the '13 season, that year can do down as an aberration. But losing an All-Ireland final to your greatest rivals casts this off-season in a different light for Buckley.
"It was my fifth year on the panel and, obviously, I won three All-Irelands in them five years," Buckley says. "2013, it's not that it makes it any easier, but we were beaten earlier on in the summer that year. And I suppose (this) was my first All-Ireland final loss and it does hit you hard, definitely.
"The few weeks afterwards, whatever, you're embarrassed, disappointed, everything comes to mind. But you hope that, (given time) to reflect on it, it's an experience you'll learn from, but only time will tell.
"Even being back here (in Croke Park), unfortunately, this year, it brings back not so nice memories as opposed to the past few years. But that's part of it. We have no given right to win it every year.
"We're back in the chasing pack for next year. In a way, it's a new challenge again and one to look forward to.
"Hopefully, we can learn from the disappointment and the absolutely terrible feelings that we had in them few weeks after the All-Ireland."
The post-season feeling might be less familiar for Buckley but one constant remains. Brian Cody confirmed earlier this week that he would return for a 19th season in charge of the Cats. Anything else would have been just short of unimaginable.
"I know no different. I have five years done on the senior panel now and Kilkenny senior hurling is Brian Cody to me. I presume that's the case for anyone younger than me and even lads ... I don't think there's anyone on the panel who knows any different. No-one would have served under a different manager.
"It would be strange to ever think that there will be a different manager on board but, look, for 2017 anyway, it's the same management team. That kind of puts it to bed now, anyway."
And Buckley doesn't expect Cody to make major changes to their approach despite losing September's final to Tipperary.
"Being honest, comparing 2013 and 2014, when we'd lost the previous year, and maybe then 2014 and 2015, where we'd won the previous year, he doesn't change all that much.
"He still banks the previous year no matter what way it has gone. He always states that to us, he doesn't care. So he didn't care about last year when we had won, while we were playing this year, and I presume he won't care about last year when we'd lost, when we're playing next year.
"For him, I presume it will be like the players, he'll have taken different things and seen different challenges and he'll definitely bring that forward. I'd say it'll be the same approach to it."
As defending champions, Kilkenny will go straight into the Leinster semi-final where they'll be expected to face Davy Fitzgerald's Wexford provided they beat one of the sides that emerge from the round robin system in their quarter-final.
"Wexford Park, a lot of teams have fallen to it. O'Loughlins now this weekend have to go to Wexford Park. Straight away it's definitely an advantage to a Wexford team, they seem to trouble no matter what Kilkenny team it is. In 2013, 2012, U-21 teams in Wexford knocked out Kilkenny those two years so it's a tough place to go. That will add to the challenge if it is Wexford next year."