Saturday 20 January 2018

Déise are at the top table and must regroup to stay there

Brian Cody's some genius to pull a rabbit called Liam Blanchfield out of his peaked hat to deliver a performance like that. Photo: Sportsfile
Brian Cody's some genius to pull a rabbit called Liam Blanchfield out of his peaked hat to deliver a performance like that. Photo: Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

You just have to take your hat off to Kilkenny and Brian Cody. No matter what was put up to them in Thurles on Saturday night, they were able to rise above it and clinch victory in an unreal game.

I don't think there's a statue of Cody anywhere in Kilkenny, but if he continues to break his own records, they may have to erect one. He's some genius to pull a rabbit called Liam Blanchfield out of his peaked hat to deliver a performance like that. He's a master craftsman, he knows his county players inside out and they know what he expects of them.

And there's no cribbing from players like Kieran Joyce or John Power about not playing. They just get on with business, that's the Kilkenny way.

Padraig Walsh and Cillian Buckley were outstanding, they hurled ball after ball, with Paul Murphy bursting out from the back relentlessly. They just tried to get to every ball and with those lads on your team, and the likes of TJ Reid and Richie Hogan, they'll fancy themselves to make it three-in-a-row against Tipperary.

It's a tough place for Waterford to be in, but to use a golfing analogy they're playing off scratch now. They're up with the big hitters and very small margins will see things going their way if they stick at it and stay together.

It's up to them to drive it on now and if they mind themselves they're going to be a major force, I've absolutely no doubt about that. Darragh Fives was a big loss and if Derek McGrath can bring through a few more youngsters they'll be thereabouts again.

When you see fellas falling down with pure exhaustion after the final whistle, you can't ask for more than that and they put on a spectacle that will live long in the memory.

They gave it absolutely everything and when someone like Richie is looking particularly the worse for wear after, you know he, along with everyone else, left it all out on the pitch.

If the players die out there and push their bodies to the limit for you and you don't win, you just have to take it on the chin and say the better team won. The first-half was a special 35 minutes with great catches, great points, great goals and massive physicality - everything that's good about hurling.

As for the minor game in Croke Park yesterday, never in all my years watching hurling can I remember a team scoring seven goals in a big Croke Park game like that. Much was expected of Galway, with many of last year's All-Ireland-winning side still in toe, Tipp were ruthless. Once they got a sniff of a goal they never looked back and blitzed Galway to complete a bizarre scoreline.

After what I saw in the Munster final, I expect them to beat Limerick again in what could be a special day for the McGrath family, with Brian captaining the minors and older brothers Noel and John later lining out with the seniors.

Irish Independent

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