Veterans will decide their own future - Cody
Published 02/12/2010 | 05:00
KILKENNY manager Brian Cody won't be putting any pressure on his senior players to stay on in the wake of Derek Lyng's retirement.
The Cats boss paid tribute to his long-serving midfielder but insisted all of the 2010 squad will be left to make their own decisions on whether they will return to try and reclaim the Liam MacCarthy Cup next September.
In the aftermath of September's All-Ireland final defeat to Tipperary, there were reports that James Ryall and Michael Kavanagh had retired, but those were quashed by the county board.
Prior to the start of the 2010 championship campaign, Kilkenny legend DJ Carey predicted that several of the current side would retire when they were finally beaten in the championship. However, Cody insists his players will be left to their own devices.
"I haven't got a clue (what players will do); every player will be left to make a decision for themselves and I suppose we'll know more when we get together when the new year starts.
"Derek was a tremendous hurler who got the very best out of himself. He came along in 2001 and soon he was on the team. He had a terrific athleticism and he got around the field and clipped over a few important points in his time too," the Kilkenny boss reflected.
"He has struggled with a serious hip injury over the last three years and we have had to manage him carefully and obviously his game time diminished in recent years. He came to me a couple of days ago and we sat down and had a chat about things and that was the conclusion of it. He's a great character and will be sorely missed around the dressing-room."
Lyng's last appearance in a Kilkenny jersey came in the All-Ireland final, when he played almost 20 minutes, and he also made substitute appearances against Dublin in Leinster and against Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Despite Lyng's retirement, Cody, who will return for his 13th year in charge in 2011, still has plenty of options in midfield. Michael Fennelly was an ever-present in their four championship games this year and he was partnered by Andy Comerford, Michael Rice and James 'Cha' Fitzpatrick at different stages.
There is also a steady stream of underage talent. Kilkenny have won four All-Ireland minor titles in the last 10 years, while they have also garnered four U-21 titles in the same time.
Of more pressing concern, however, is the continuing rehabilitation of Henry Shefflin and John Tennyson. Shefflin's recovery from his operation is ongoing, with the Ballyhale man looking at "six or seven" months of rehabilitation before he could consider a return.
Fellow knee injury victim Tennyson also went under the knife. He carried a similar injury to Shefflin into the All-Ireland final and, amazingly, also played a full part in Carrickshock's run to the county final before having his operation. Neither player is expected to feature before the Leinster championship kicks off on June 18 against either Antrim, Laois or Wexford.
"It's just a question of getting on with it and making sure they are doing the right things to get themselves back fit. It's six or seven months anyway that they are looking at," said Cody.
"We haven't spoken too much (to the squad). They'll be tipping away in the gym, doing their own little bit. They like to keep themselves in good shape."
Lyng's retirement means the first member of the four-in-a-row has stepped aside. "He was a wonderful, inspiring player," Cody stated. "He has left a brilliant legacy."