Can DJ end decade of disappointment for Kilkenny U-21s?
DJ Carey's appointment as Kilkenny U-21 manager for 2018 comes at an interesting time for the county. Surprisingly, it will be ten years next year since Kilkenny won the last of their 11 All-Ireland U-21 titles, having also triumphed in 2003-'04-'06 with teams that included many players who went on to be major senior stars.
Kilkenny have lost three finals since the 2008 success, achieved with a team which included Paul Murphy, Kieran Joyce, Colin Fennelly, TJ Reid, Richie Hogan and Lester Ryan. Kilkenny didn't reach any of the last three All-Ireland minor finals, which suggests the supply lines haven't been functioning as well as usual, leaving DJ with a big challenge for which he is ideally suited. Suffice to say, creativity will be high on the agenda.
Kilkenny's problems at U-21 level have been reflected elsewhere too among the traditional superpowers. Cork last won the title in 1998, while Tipperary have won only one (2010) of the last 22 titles.
Galway's last success was in 2011. Clare (four), Limerick (two), and Waterford (one) have between them won seven of the last nine U-21 crowns. An omen for the future senior scene perhaps?