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Hungry Cats grounded in hunt for 'big prize'


Kilkenny's Richie Power. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Kilkenny's Richie Power. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

Kilkenny's Richie Power. Picture credit: Ray McManus / SPORTSFILE

IN HIS acceptance speech, Lester Ryan thanked the Kilkenny support and referenced their third league title on the spin as a mere resting place on the journey towards "where we want to go in September".

"People are saying there about September and we're only in May, and only early May at that," warned Michael Fennelly afterwards, clearly self-aware enough to recall that Kilkenny's season ended in July last year. "We have Offaly in our sights today for the championship and that will be a key one. We won't look any way past that."

Similarly, there was a collective acknowledgement among those Kilkenny players who spoke after their win over Tipperary last Sunday that they were in figuratively exactly the same place last season, clutching exactly the same silverware and having beaten exactly the same opposition, but flopped come summer.

Still, the fluid team selections have increased Brian Cody's options and, as he acknowledged himself, provided a greater level of consistency this season. "We set out at the beginning of every year to win every tournament we're in, that's Brian's philosophy," said Richie Power (pictured). "He probably used the league this year more to look at players than in other years – look at the guys out there like Pádraig Walsh and Cillian Buckley, they're really stepping up to the mark.

"They're putting pressure on the rest of us and that can only be good for us. We'll go back to the clubs now for 10 days or so and we'll play Clare at a pitch opening in a couple of weeks, then it's Offaly."

"That was as close to championship pace as you're going to get," the Carrickshock man continued. "That's going to stand to both teams no end going into the first round of the championship itself.

"We came out on the right side of it in extra-time, but a draw could have been a fair result.

"We'll take the one-point win and push on now for the championship in five weeks' time. It was nip and tuck all the way.

"We knew what we were capable of if we pushed and pushed, we stuck to it, and it would have been unfair on any team to lose in normal time, but it's still only the league," Power concluded. "The big prize is in September."