Brian Cody: I'd like to think I am still improving as I go along
Seventeen years in the job and August usually follows a familiar routine.
For the 14th season as Kilkenny manager, Brian Cody is getting his media duties out of the way ahead of an All-Ireland final. He'll sit and talk for as long as you want but there'll be no easy soundbites here. It's never been his way.
Even when talk moves towards his remarkable longevity, he's not interested in reflection on his scarcely believable run with the Cats since he took charge in 1999.
This year is slightly different in that he has retired from teaching now. There's no return to school to factor into the run-in to this year's All-Ireland final, but it makes little difference to him. Every year is different. It has to be if you are to stay ahead of the pack. You don't break records thinking any other way.
"We're constantly learning, we're learning still, there's so much more we need to know," he said.
"We learn from each other and we learn from matches, we learn from all the various aspects of the team and we're constantly trying to improve.
"The fundamentals of the game are, to me, still the fundamentals of the game - different people and different management teams produce different teams with different tactics and everything else, and that's the way it should be. That's the interesting thing about it.
"Whatever challenge is put in front of you, you've got to try to adapt to it. But like, am I just the same fella that is doing this job for the last number of years? I'm the same fella, but I'd like to think I'm improving as I go along and we certainly need to improve all the time.
"It's like the players, the challenge is there every single day you go out. And how you did the last day, it's no good to you, you've got to deliver and try to front up every single day.
"And it's about doing your utmost to cope with that challenge."
This time the challenge is a familiar one in the shape of Galway. At the end of the Leinster final, Anthony Cunningham grasped Cody's hand and told him they'd meet again before the year is out.
Down through the years Galway have made a habit of summoning enough fury to skin the Cats. The 2012 Leinster final jumps to mind - where Cody saw the genesis of the team that will rock up to Croke Park on Sunday. That day, he saw much to admire.
"They played us in the Leinster final in 2012 and I wouldn't like to meet a more aggressive team to be honest about it," Cody recalled.
"Their fire that day, their determination. . . and aggressive is a good word, it's genuine aggression, it's determination, it's drive, it's closing down players, all of that.
"That's a huge part of the game and they are doing that very, very well.
"The levels they reached the last day in the semi-final were seriously impressive."
Back in 2012, Kilkenny managed to turn the Leinster decider result on its head in the All-Ireland final.
But Cody denies that having to beat the same opposition in the Championship for the second time adds to Kilkenny's task in any way.
All the motivation required, he says, will come from the fact that they are playing in an All-Ireland final.
"The reality of the Championship is you know you can beat a team in the Leinster final and then you can meet them in the All-Ireland final," he said.
'You can say it gives huge motivation to the team that loses but there is no motivation (like) being in an All-Ireland final for any team. And if they are more motivated, then there is something wrong with us.
"And if we were more motivated than them there is something wrong with them. That's not going to be the case so their is no advantage or disadvantage for any of us going into the All-Ireland final."
Kilkenny won the day in 2012. They go eyeball to eyeball again, though this time there's no Henry Shefflin or JJ Delaney and a handful of others to call on. People move on and so must Kilkenny. There's a hole in their squad that won't be filled easily and Galway are eager to exploit it.
Cody doesn't expect the Tribesmen to blink.
"The greatest thing they showed was their refusal to be rattled and their composure," he said.
"I said in the Leinster final we were rattled by a goal before half-time and a goal after half-time.
"They were rattled by three goals from the same player (Seamus Callanan in the All-Ireland semi-final) and that kind of makes it even more difficult to deal with really.
"If goals are coming from different areas. . . but suddenly when this player is on fire and he's so difficult to stop that's difficult to deal with and at the end of it they did brilliantly in the sense that they came back each time, responded with a couple of scores.
"There was a lot to admire there. Am I surprised by any of it? No, I'm not. I think they're a very, very good team."