Tuesday 12 December 2017

Carter: Cats are not going to fall from grace

Carter: “We’re slipping into a slight transition period again, I’d say.” Picture credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE
Carter: “We’re slipping into a slight transition period again, I’d say.” Picture credit: Piaras Ó Mídheach / SPORTSFILE

Michael Verney

If any team can win an All-Ireland in transition it's Kilkenny, but they're going to have to identify a new spine to their defence to do so, according to former star Charlie Carter.

After Tipperary humbled the Cats in September's All-Ireland decider, it was assumed that the golden era on Noreside was at an end, but Carter insists that doesn't have to be the case.

There was similar talk in 2006 when Cork dominated hurling's landscape and were heading for three in a row but Cody refuelled the Cats to take eight of the next 11 titles with a team now widely acclaimed as the game's greatest.

The underage production lines have been dried up somewhat but Young Irelands clubman Carter feels there's still a healthy crop of youngsters emerging and believes Cody must place faith in them.

"We're slipping into a slight transition period again, I'd say," Carter said. "It's a new challenge for Brian and he'll probably have to go back a little bit to go forward. There is talent there, but it takes a while to mould them into a team.

"We're not going to fall from grace, even though we're obviously not on the plateau that we were on. You don't know how long transition is going to be.

"I've seen it happen before where teams come together very quickly. It's just a case maybe of Brian trusting the younger players coming through and them showing a bit of form and gelling."

With Tipperary's full-forward line ripping Kilkenny to shreds as they notched 2-15 from play in the final, three-time All-Ireland winner Carter feels the Cats need to get things sorted at the back before moving forward.

"We maybe need to find a new No 3 and a new No 6 for next year and build around them. I didn't think Joey (Holden) got much cover at full-back last year in the All-Ireland, I thought there was too much room between the half-back and full-back lines," Carter said.

"It was strange that someone wasn't in Brian's ear telling him, 'Look, Brian, Jesus, there's a savage gap between the half-back line and the full-back line. And then, to make matters worse, their half-back line was cleaning up and delivering quality ball in. It was harvest time.

"I've been at a lot of matches over the last couple of months in Kilkenny and you're always there trying to find a new player or two. Full-back is a hard position to fill. Noel Hickeys don't grow on trees."

While "Kilkenny don't usually do sweepers", Carter appreciates the tactic might have helped to shore things up and "disrupt" Tipp and admits that "the goalposts have moved a little bit" for Cody as well.

With major change around the corner, Carter feels his former boss is "in for the long-haul" and believes the race for Liam MacCarthy could be a "throw-back to the '90s" where six counties reached the summit in a glorious decade for hurling.

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