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DJ can't spin loss of Cody

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Kilkenny's DJ Carey. Picture: Sportsfile.

Kilkenny's DJ Carey. Picture: Sportsfile.

Kilkenny's DJ Carey. Picture: Sportsfile.

RARELY has a man been spoken about so much more extensively in his absence than his presence but quite what calculable effect Brian Cody's non-appearance for Sunday's league final will have is still open to debate.

It is, according to one Kilkenny great, merely dominating that same debate rather than actually threatening the Cats' chances in the event at the end of all the talk.

"What is it doing? It's distracting away from the real issue, I suppose," the legendary DJ Carey told The Herald.

"That's what the talk is doing. Ultimately, whether Brian is there on Sunday or not ... Kilkenny will continue to do what he has set out over the last 10 years.

"There is only so much Brian would have been able to say over the years that hasn't been repeated. At this stage now, guys will continue on with what they have been doing."

That's not to say that anyone doubts the influence of the man under whom Carey won three of his five All-Ireland medals, it's just that Cody hasn't yet been away long enough to harm the structures he himself has implanted.

"He is a huge influence," the Gowran legend explains. "He is a huge influence on the opposition. He is a huge influence on the team. He is a huge influence on the sideline. Of course it's a big thing."

That the final is in Nowlan Park, rather than Thurles, carries much local significance too, according to Carey.

"It has significance for Kilkenny hurling in so far as Kilkenny want to have big matches and Leinster Championship matches there. They can put on a great show on Sunday. And Tipp won't mind coming to Nowlan Park. There is an old rivalry there and Kilkenny have always loved going to Thurles.

"It will create a magnificent atmosphere. It's tighter, more compact. People are closer to the game. It's a great venue to have it in and the pitch will be perfect."

Yet for him, like so many other opponents, the league passed as an unsatisfactory blur. Like just about everybody else with an interest in hurling, Carey is a confirmed critic of the competition's shape and size, noting that "the only exciting part was the last day, because everybody was in contention".

As is customary though, small things have fallen into place for Kilkenny through its life span despite losing both of their first two matches in the competition, as much by necessity as design.

"Eoin Murphy in goal has taken his chance very well," Carey stresses. "Lester Ryan has taken his chance very well. Ger Aylward has played well. At the end of the day, Brian will give you a chance. You won't get whipped off after 10 or 15 minutes. But you must take your chance."

Whether Sunday features the country's top two though, is open for debate.

Tipperary are, he insists, "a very, very, very talented team. All-Ireland champions a couple of years ago and very unlucky not to have another couple of All-Irelands behind them," adding that the 2010 under-21 team from which they have drawn so much talent are "as good an under-21 team as I've ever seen".

Yet Galway took enough points off Kilkenny through the entirety of 2012 to consider themselves in that very illustrious bracket, and even their felling in the league semi-final by the Cats didn't quite have a summer shine about it.

"It is very hard to say Tipperary have stolen a march on Galway," says Carey. "Galway got to an All-Ireland. They could have won it. They were unlucky last year. Do Galway want to win a league title? I got the impression from Galway the last day they were prepared to let it go without any great fight.

"They went into a Leinster Championship last year against Kilkenny as underdogs and wiped the floor with them.

"Did Galway want to beat Kilkenny in a league semi-final and have them coming into Leinster as underdogs? I don't know. There are a lot of tactics involved. I think they would have taken a win but I don't think they pressed too hard, to be honest.

"Sunday is a big game for these lads," he continues. "Sunday is a national final. These guys need to perform if they want to hold onto their places and keep the older guys out for the championship.

"Michael Fennelly has been injured a lot over the last couple of years. Michael Rice is still coming back from injury. Richie Power has cracked ribs.

And there will be plenty more injuries throughout the year so this is a big, big game for a lot of lads on Sunday.

"It's a huge test."


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