Sunday 26 March 2017

Cody's greatest gift is turning fringe men into superstars

'It’s now 11 All-Irelands for Brian Cody'
'It’s now 11 All-Irelands for Brian Cody'

Michael McCarthy

Leaving Croke Park on Sunday evening was a bizarre experience. I've never left an All-Ireland final in such a dead atmosphere.

The Galway fans were naturally deflated. Kilkenny fans were relieved and content, but not exactly delirious. This is what we expect now, and it just didn't feel good for hurling.

As we move further away from the game though, the appreciation for what they have achieved is growing and growing.

It's now 11 All-Irelands for Brian Cody. Now it's being done without Henry Shefflin, without Tommy Walsh, without JJ Delaney. Three once in a lifetime players that came along at the same time. Sure you couldn't but win with them, right?

What Kilkenny do better than anyone is promote from within. Young players are groomed to take over from the legends of the game, and assume their leadership roles.

Michael Fennelly, Richie Hogan and TJ Reid were all once bit-part players in this set-up. If Reid wins the award this year, all three will have been Hurler of the Year.

Conversations I have about Kilkenny all seem to centre on when the fall will come. It can't last forever, they say. These lads won't be around forever.

This overlooks Cody's incredible ability to bring through that two or three new players every year, and they way their fringe players gradually become their superstars.

On Monday night, there were 15,000 people in Nowlan Park to welcome another triumphant Kilkenny team home. It may have felt matter of fact at Croke Park, but here's how appreciated their achievement was. Surely this team can't be bad for the game?

Irish Independent

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