Saturday 20 January 2018

'I dont know too many lads in Kilkenny looking for top job'

Former Cats star Brennan insists future is bright despite 'blip'

Eddie Brennan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Eddie Brennan. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

For Eddie Brennan, some sort of "blip" was inevitable.

The eight-time All-Ireland winner realises the Cats have enjoyed a golden era and insists the standards set under Brian Cody simply can't be maintained.

There are several stunning statistics to sum up his reign but perhaps nothing underlines their consistent excellence like the following: defeat to Waterford last weekend ensured this was just the fourth time in 19 seasons that Cody won't lead them to an All-Ireland final.

"It's just the natural scheme of things and maybe as Brian has often described himself it's maybe unnatural what has happened with the Kilkenny senior team, the standard that they play with, so it's what happens," Brennan said.


At first glance, it's been a poor season for the Cats but closer inspection shows they are minor and U-21 Leinster champions. At colleges level, St Kieran's have won three of the last four Croke Cups, with Kilkenny CBS in four of the last six finals in that same competition.

The county's senior team mightn't be functioning as well as it was, but behind the scenes, it's all coming together nicely.

"There are promising signs there without a doubt," Brennan said. "The minors winning this year and even the 21s, look, it's been five or six years since we did it and we've been playing second fiddle to Dublin and Wexford in the Leinster province at the moment."

"So, it was important that we get those wins because you'd say there is maybe a plateau period coming for Kilkenny possibly ... they have been playing at such a high standard and playing at the business end of the championship consistently under Brian Cody.

"When that blip comes, like it did in '13 and again this year, I don't think we'll be going along and trying to tear up the script really," Brennan continued.

"It's just a case of working on stuff and working on the underage guys and trying to get players developed and get them ready to go into that challenge.

"Because I think if you look at the profile of most of the senior teams there is a good blend of youth in there and maybe it's how you can integrate that with the more senior guys.

"If you are looking at that Waterford set-up, they won the U-21 last year pulling up and I think 14 of that squad are there, part of the senior set-up, but yet 'Brick' (Michael Walsh) and Kevin Moran are so important to them.

"So, it's all about getting the blend right really."

Brennan led the county U-21s to Leinster glory and they are preparing for the challenge of Antrim in next month's All-Ireland semi-final.

While he didn't rule out taking the senior job down the line, he believes it's vital Cody remains at the helm as the county look to rebuild.

"I don't see the benefit of changing it. Like I said, I don't know of too many lads around Kilkenny who are looking to take that job so I think that it's probably important that Brian stays there because he knows what he has.

"I think his backroom team, particularly Mick Dempsey and them, know the set-up.

"They know what's there and particularly if he was to turn around and look back on the squad he has, I'd say next year they can reset and go again and revitalise the team somewhat but, yeah, I fully expect Brian to be back there next year."

No need to ban Cody over incident - Brennan

Former Kilkenny ace Eddie Brennan can't see Brian Cody facing any sanction for last Saturday's incident in Semple Stadium that saw him make contact with fourth official Justin Heffernan during the Cats' All-Ireland SHC qualifier defeat to Waterford.

Brennan insists his former manager was attempting to remonstrate with Déise manager Derek McGrath when Heffernan stepped between the pair to ensure "nothing escalated".

"Whatever happened in the run of play happened to be wherever Derek McGrath was.

"And Brian thought Derek was trying to steal a yard of advantage, as any manager does, and he was coming down the line to have a little chat with Derek and the fourth official, for me, he was trying to make sure nothing escalated.

"I don't think it was a case of putting hands on or anything like that. I don't know, I wasn't there. I will give you the Arsene Wenger line and say I haven't seen the tape!

"But you can look at it from two perspectives, the technical black and white side of it and then the overall, what actually happened. And I don't think there was too much in it. I don't think Derek is going to complain, nor is the linesman. It is different if Kilkenny were going forward but they are not, so it is not an issue."

When it was put to him that Dublin fans would see little difference between this incident and the one that saw Diarmuid Connolly hit with a 12-week ban, he accepted that they would have a point.

"Something that I always bang on a little bit about when I am on 'The Sunday Game' is the consistency in application of rules. And yes, I agree, if there is the putting the hands on an official, that has to be dealt with, without a doubt, and has to be taken on its merits.

"I am making both sides of the argument but if we get consistency across the board, you won't have complaints from anybody."



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