Keher backs Cody to stay on but warns of challenging times ahead
Brian Cody is still the man to lead Kilkenny forward but a few key positions must be "ironed out" or they will remain in the chasing pack for All-Ireland SHC honours, according to Cats legend Eddie Keher.
For only the second time during Cody's glittering managerial reign (2004-2005), Kilkenny have gone two years without lifting Liam MacCarthy and 2017 will go down as his least fruitful as they relinquished their Leinster crown and failed to reach the All-Ireland quarter-finals.
Keher, who will be honoured with a Lifetime Achievement award at the GPA Former Players Event this Saturday in Croke Park, firmly believes the 11-time All-Ireland-winning manager will remain at the helm, although he predicts that 2018 may be another challenging year for the Cats.
"It's not time for Brian to step away, he's been beaten like that before and come back with even more determination and I would expect that he's already working on next year so I'd say he's still the man for that job," Keher said.
"On the present form KIlkenny aren't All-Ireland contenders, there's about six teams in contention, which is a great position for hurling to be in, and Kilkenny are maybe sixth or seventh on this year's form. There's a lot of work to be done.
"Key positions must be ironed out and some of the key players have to recapture their form of previous years. There's a lot of things that need to happen and while I'm not saying it's impossible, the competition is fairly severe.
"It's going to be very hard for Kilkenny to get out of Leinster for a start, the competition is as tough as it is in Munster now."
Keher, a six-time All-Ireland winner, was not enthused by a "disappointing" Kilkenny performance as their U-21 side fell to Limerick in last Saturday's All-Ireland decider and he believes lean times may lie ahead after a golden era which yielded 11 All-Ireland titles in 18 seasons.
"There was a good few potential seniors coming into that game but they were shown up a bit and they have a lot of work to do. They have the talent and potential but they have a lot of work to do to stamp their place on the senior team," the Rower-Inistioge clubman said.
"The seniors were well beaten this year and we keep saying the past few years that after losing such quality players, you can replace good players but you can't replace great players so easily and there was a hole in the team.
"It was sheer determination that won the All-Ireland two years ago with not anything like the talent they had before. This year proved that we're gone back a lot and there is a bit of work to do and a bit of rebuilding to do but we can't complain, we had a great time."