'How did they get so far?' - Ger Loughnane takes aim at Eddie Brennan's 'agricultural' Kilkenny under-21 side
Two-time All-Ireland-winning manager Ger Loughnane believes Kilkenny are in for a difficult few years of transition based on the performance of their under-21 side on Saturday.
Eddie Brennan's charges were outclassed by Limerick in Thurles and could only muster four points from play, albeit in blustery conditions.
It's been a tough year for the Cats with Brian Cody's team suffering a league quarter-final defeat to Wexford, a first championship defeat to the Model county in 13 years and a first championship defeat to Waterford since 1959.
Writing in his column in today's Irish Daily Star, Loughnane said Cody's chances of resurrecting Kilkenny's fortunes will not be helped by the lack of talent coming through the underage ranks.
“By now, even Brian Cody realises that time waits for no-one. The golden era is over and young recruits are not only needed but vital if Kilkenny are to be serious challengers in 2018," he said.
“As he looked on last Saturday, even Cody must have reservations about staying on as manager. This was the worst display by a Kilkenny underage team since this very side was hammered by Dublin at Nowlan Park in the first round of the minor three years ago.”
A serious point of concern for Loughnane is the dearth of quality forwards emerging and he also questioned the skill level of the young players coming through..
“Such a lack of pace. So little finesse. An unusual lack of physicality. And not a forward of any potential in sight. Four points from play in a final must be unprecedented for a Kilkenny U21 team. And more discouragingly, those who were seen to have serious potential beforehand – Richie Leahy, Johnny Walsh, Sean Morrissey, Shane Walsh and Billy Ryan – were all taken off," he added.
“I have never seen a Kilkenny team in a final with so many agricultural hurlers, which begs the question of course, ‘how did they get so far?’
“The answer being that the standard in Leinster was brutal this year and they beat no-one of any substance along the way.”