Sunday 24 September 2017

Off The Ball: Why don't we appreciate how great this Cats team is?

Kilkenny's relegation play-off against Clare was won by a point. Two seasons diverged on Cillian Buckley's injury-time point (SPORTSFILE)
Kilkenny's relegation play-off against Clare was won by a point. Two seasons diverged on Cillian Buckley's injury-time point (SPORTSFILE)

Ger Gilroy

"The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new"

Beckett was more into his cricket than hurling but the opening line to Murphy reflects the lack of fanfare surrounding the Kilkenny hurlers.

It is both their curse and blessing to be Kilkenny. Prisoners of their own expectation, they don't seek the love of the general sporting public and might not even know what to do with it if they were to be truly recognised for their achievements.

They were barely mentioned in the various Team of the Year awards.

I wonder where this year's All-Ireland win ranks in Brian Cody's stable of favourites? There's a case to be made that it represents his greatest achievement.

No Henry Shefflin, no Tommy Walsh, no JJ Delaney, Jackie Tyrrell curtailed by injury, and several others who were 'only' multiple All-Stars and All-Ireland winners as opposed to candidates for an all time Top 5.

Blinked

The team barely blinked, though. During the League they flirted with relegation, but Cody was blooding new players, inculcating the culture, deepening the team's identity. The relegation play-off against Clare was won by a point. Two seasons diverged on Cillian Buckley's injury-time point.

In the Championship, they faced injury crises, nursed debutants through the season and looked deep into they club game for replacements where required.

They get grief for the standard of their opposition this season, like showing up was enough to win. Limerick, Clare, Waterford, Galway and Tipperary all started the year with realistic hopes something magical would happen.

Kilkenny timed their run. The Alex Ferguson comparisons never seemed more appropriate than this year as Manchester United continue to crumble. Cody's new team might only be getting going. Nothing new.

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