Sport Hurling

Saturday 20 January 2018

Cyril Farrell: Kilkenny relentless hunger fed by boss' code of honour

Kilkenny manager Brian Cody chats with Richie Hogan after his team’s victory against Galway
Kilkenny manager Brian Cody chats with Richie Hogan after his team’s victory against Galway

Cyril Farrell

Business as usual in Leinster but you have to stand back and admire how Brian Cody motivates this group of players.

Their insatiable desire is driven by Cody, who has built his reputation around making players realise how much of an honour it is to pull on a Kilkenny jersey.

The Kilkenny camp is like a sacrament. If you get into it, guys seem to realise how much of a privilege it is. Fellas grow two or three feet taller when they're wearing black and amber.

There's no messing about with them and every player knows how serious it is. Even when they're missing the likes of Michael Fennelly and Richie Power, players can slot into Cody's system.

He is the best manager of all time, no question about it, and he never goes on about it. He has set the template and it's up to everyone else to try an emulate it.

Galway can't have any complaints. They were beaten by the better team, simple as that, but they have to learn lessons from it.


Even when Jason Flynn scored a goal just after half-time, you wondered if they could stay with Kilkenny - there was a sense of inevitability about the way in which the Cats moved through the years.

They didn't have to hit full throttle all afternoon and there is still room for improvement, which is worrying for every other team in the country.

If anyone does manage to beat Kilkenny this year, they will be crowned All-Ireland champions. I have no doubt about that.

They stuttered at times and Galway will be disappointed that they couldn't capitalise on that.

For me, the only chink in Kilkenny's armour is that their bench isn't as strong as it has been in previous years, but with Fennelly and Power to come back, their hand will be considerably strengthened.

For Galway, there is plenty to take from the game.

They'll get a week with their clubs and come back fresh again. No-one will want to draw them in the qualifiers.

There was a sense of disbelief in Croke Park when Joe Canning scored his goal. It was a thing of beauty; for me, it was without doubt the goal of the season.

It was fantastic to be able to see a replay of the moment of magic on the big screens at Croke Park, but why can't we see every incident?

We are never shown any marginal calls that might spark a bit of debate, which I feel is wrong.

From a supporter's point of view, you want to see as many incidents as possible inside the stadium, not just the good ones.

Only Canning could have pulled off a piece of skill like that and although it did briefly inspire Galway, Kilkenny's vision and composure on the ball is what sets them apart.

Richie Hogan, Eoin Larkin and TJ Reid in particular showed their class, while Ger Aylward looks like he's nailed down his place in the starting XV.

They never seem to be rushed when they're on the ball and their deadly accuracy is just utterly relentless.

There is so much to admire in what Kilkenny do and not just in their style of play.

They are well able to mix it up when they need to and even when they get hard hits, they never complain - they bounce straight back up and are hungry for more. That is a real mark of champions.

When Joey Holden lifted the trophy, there was certainly a sense of deja vu amongst those who were still in the ground.

If it had been Galway that were crowned champions, the scenes would have understandably been a lot different.

The cup will have been safely packed away on the Kilkenny bus but their focus is on the big prize. Just like it always is.

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