Managers called to the bar
BRIAN Cody, Liam Sheedy and Denis Walsh were called to the bar yesterday but none of them got in a round, WRITES MARTIN BREHENY.
They were in Dublin, where a year earlier Sheedy had spoken about how, when he took over as Tipperary manager, he thought he knew how high the performance bar was, only to discover that by the end of the season it had been raised again by Kilkenny.
Since Kilkenny beat Tipperary twice in epic league and All-Ireland finals last year, it seemed appropriate to ask Sheedy whether the bar had been raised further in 2009.
"We were beaten in those finals by an exceptional team. We tried hard but then so did everybody else. It was a very competitive championship but that was 2009. We're looking to 2010 now," he said.
Brian, any comment on how high that bar is?
"The bar doesn't exist," Cody said. "On any given day one team can beat another. That's the way it always has been and always will."
And you, Denis? Any thoughts on the bar?
"That bar you're talking about is new to me. Now there are a few bars down in east Cork I'll tell you about alright!"
The managers sat side by side representing the three most successful hurling counties at the start of a new decade which could, of course, soon produce a historic moment if Kilkenny win the All-Ireland five-in-a-row. When asked if Tipperary were again best placed to offer the most serious championship challenge to Kilkenny, Sheedy applied a dose of reality based on 2009 experience.
"There's nothing for being second. It doesn't matter how well you play, it's the final result that matters and when you look back at the 2009 championship, it shows that Kilkenny beat Galway, Dublin, Waterford and ourselves by around the same margins," he said.
While Tipperary are second favourites behind Kilkenny for the All-Ireland title, they face a very tough Munster championship, starting at Pairc Ui Chaoimh.
"It's a tough draw. We've only had one win in something like 85 years down there, which shows how hard it is," said Sheedy.
For Walsh, the prospect of heading into a campaign free of controversy and with the same amount of work put in as everybody else is a real boost. Hell, Cork might even make a make a decent stab at winning the league, a competition they haven't won since 1998.
"Of course, we'll be having a go," said Walsh.
So too will Kilkenny. "Of course we want to win the league. Isn't that all there's to play for at this time of year?" said Cody.
Besides, won't it keep Kilkenny minds off the five-in-a-row?